After having the day off Saturday, the Wild had a long, hard, workmanlike practice today at Xcel Energy Center.
Assistant coaches Rick Wilson, Darby Hendrickson and Andrew Brunette ran the show with goalie coach Bob Mason because head coach Mike Yeo left town Friday for a personal matter.
Yeo's back now, Wilson said. After practice, several players stayed on the ice overtime to work on skills.
"The players did a good job," Wilson said of practice. "They were able to get the tempo back up. We touched on some tactical stuff and spent a fair amount of time on special teams. Mike's put together a pretty good plan [for the week]."
As I wrote Friday, after beating Winnipeg and Buffalo in its final two preseason games by a combined score of 14-2, the coaches want to make sure things don't get stale with seven days between the preseason finale and Thursday's season opener at Colorado.
So, the Wild had a hard practice Friday, was off Saturday, practiced hard today, has an off-ice workout Monday and two practices Tuesday and Wednesday before hopping aboard a charter for Denver.
If you didn't read my profile today on Mikael Granlund, here's a link. Some fun stuff in there on his relationship with Mikko Koivu and also living up to the hype and Niklas Backstrom painting a good picture of what Granlund is like away from the ice.
-- A reminder: Tuesday at Star Tribune headquarters in Minneapolis from 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m., the Star Tribune will be holding a panel and Q and A for Wild fans, so come on down to take part with me, Chip Scoggins, Michael Rand and former Wild forward Mark Parrish.
-- On Thursday at 3 p.m., I'll be holding my first live online chat of the season at www.startribune.com/wild. Come on by and ask questions as I churn away from my hotel room in Denver.
-- Also, Jim Souhan and I will be taping another podcast (they're all on malepatternpodcasts.com) on Tuesday, but we'll also be taping another one Saturday before the home opener at 4 p.m. at Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub in St. Paul. Please come on down and join us for that.
-- Today at practice, center Erik Haula (groin) didn't practice, but Jordan Schroeder (upper body) did.
Ryan Carter centered a line with Chris Porter and Schroeder.
Schroeder said today was the first time he could shoot and it felt better and better. He hopes to play Thursday.
Haula skated on his own and is scheduled to do that again Monday. The hope, Wilson said, is Haula can practice Tuesday.
If he isn't ready by Thursday's opener, Carter will either have to play center or perhaps the Wild recalls Zac Dalpe from Iowa. He scored both goals in Iowa's preseason win Saturday night over Manitoba.
Carter said he played center the first five years of his career and it's a bigger adjustment going from left wing to right wing than left wing to center.
Remember, rosters must be submitted to the NHL on Tuesday by 4 p.m. If Haula and Schroeder are both healthy, the Wild will have to make a roster move. My guess is Reilly to Iowa or Schroeder or Nate Prosser (less likely) on waivers for the purpose of getting to Iowa.
-- I did a story on Christian Folin for Monday's paper, so give that a read. He will start the season on the third pair with Marco Scandella, it appears.
Remember, the goal for the Wild this season is to even out the ice time of the six defensemen so Ryan Suter, who has led the league in ice time the past three seasons at close to 30 minutes a night, gets down to the 24-26-minute range.
"Maybe we just look at it as a group of D, not a first pair or third pair, a group of D," Wilson said. "We know the reality is you always give somebody a little more ice. Maybe they get more special teams, but 5-on-5 I think we can roll pretty tight on three good pairs."
-- So many fun stories coming up this week, so be sure to pick up the Star Tribune daily this week. I think you'll like my Nino Niederreiter feature for Tuesday's paper and my Mikko Koivu piece for Thursday. I also sat down with two players today for a laugh-out-loud interview to advance Saturday's home opener. Now, hopefully my writing does it justice.
Also, my NHL preview will be in Wednesday's paper and Wild preview in Thursday.
Monday, the Wild's having an off-ice workout. As I work ahead, Rachel Blount will be there, so follow her on Twitter at @blountstrib for any news. She will also be flying solo at Tuesday's practice as I attend the Star Tribune Wild event, so follow her as the Wild irons down its final roster.