Dane Mizutani / St. Paul Pioneer Press
BLOOMINGTON, Minn.—With the second half of the Vikings' game in London well underway, more than 2,500 enthusiastic fans packed Bloomington Ice Garden to the rafters Sunday, Oct. 29, to watch the suddenly hot Minnesota Wild practice. The overflow crowd brought a smile to coach Bruce Boudreau's face. "I love it when there's a lot of people watching hockey," he said. "Especially when football is on."
ST. PAUL -- After signing with the Minnesota Wild this offseason, Matt Cullen obviously wasn’t in attendance when the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins raised their Stanley Cup banner a few weeks ago. That means the former Moorhead Spuds star wasn’t there to receive his Stanley Cup ring. Luckily for him, the Penguins brought it along for the road trip to the Twin Cities and gave it to him after their Saturday morning skate on Oct. 28. “It’s pretty cool to get a Stanley Cup ring,” said Cullen, who has three of them to his name. “It’s always special.
ST. PAUL — Matt Cullen's drive to work Friday morning, Oct. 27, was another reminder that he made the right choice when he decided to put off retirement and sign with the Wild this offseason. While many Twin Cities residents were perhaps perturbed by the first snowfall of the year, the 40-year-old Cullen smiled when asked about it. "It's fun to see it," said Cullen, a native of Virginia, Minn. "I don't know that everybody is as excited. I love it."
ST. PAUL — Wild winger Nino Niederreiter glided around the ice with no hesitation during Thursday's morning skate at the Xcel Energy Center, the first time he has skated with teammates since suffering a high ankle sprain in the Oct. 12 game at Chicago "It's definitely a lot more fun skating with the team than by yourself," Niederreiter said of the Oct. 26 practice. "It's getting better and better. I'm happy to be out there again." His teammates were happy to see him out there again, too.
ST. PAUL — A few minutes after the Wild's lackluster 1-0 loss to Vancouver on Tuesday night, Oct. 24, at the Xcel Energy Center, a reporter's question gave coach Bruce Boudreau the opportunity to lay into his team like he has so many times in the past. It was low-hanging fruit. Instead, the 62-year-old coach credited the Canucks for playing "a very good road game" to earn the two points. "You can look worse than that," Boudreau said of his team. "(The Canucks) didn't have very many chances. ... They took advantage of theirs."
ST. PAUL — Lakeville, Minnesota, native Justin Kloos had been waiting for this moment since the first time he laced up his skates. Even better for someone who grew up only 20 minutes from the Xcel Energy Center, it was happening with his hometown Minnesota Wild. "I'm pretty excited," Kloos said in the Wild locker room hours before his NHL debut Tuesday night, Oct. 24, as the Wild prepared to take on the Vancouver Canucks. "I kind of always believed that one day this would happen. I feel fortunate and special and privileged to be able to make an NHL debut in my hometown."
ST. PAUL — Wild winger Mikael Granlund knows patience is a virtue. That doesn't mean these past two and a half weeks have been easy for him. Granlund has been out since aggravating a groin injury in the Oct. 5 season opener against the Detroit Red Wings. He has missed five games in total, and while he's been getting closer and closer to making his return, the Wild don't want him back until he's 100 percent. In fact, the team is being so cautious with Granlund that he was ruled out for road games at Winnipeg and Calgary over the weekend despite traveling with the team.
ST. PAUL — Wild winger Zach Parise is expected to have back surgery, a team source told the Pioneer Press. Parise has not played in a game this season as he has continued to deal with the injury. He was cleared for full contact two weeks ago after practicing intermittently with the team throughout training camp. Parise appeared on track to make his season debut before suffering a setback during the Monday, Oct. 16, practice. He left the ice after about 20 minutes that day following a session in which players went through intense one-on-one drills.
ST. PAUL — Wild winger Chris Stewart is on pace for 82 goals this season. Yes, this the the same guy who had almost as many fights (10) as goals (13) last season. Can he keep up the ridiculous pace? "I mean, more than likely, no," Stewart said with a laugh. "I'd take it, for sure." Stewart said more than anything, he's been trying to improve with the Wild ravaged by injuries up front. A couple of weeks into the season, Zach Parise has missed six games, Mikael Granlund five, and Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter three each.
ST. PAUL — Wild tough guy Marcus Foligno has been told he hits like a truck. Well, he looks like he got hit by a truck after a fight with Chicago Blackhawks winger John Hayden last week.