It’s a couple of weeks into the Minnesota Wild season, and in an ode to Allen Iverson’s legendary rant from nearly two decades ago, we are are indeed talking about practice.
That’s because coach Dean Evason cancelled Monday’s Wild practice, marking the second time this season he has given his team an unexpected day of rest.
As far as Evason is concerned, with the Wild playing pretty much every other night in this shortened, 56-game season, staying off the ice often outweighs the benefits of being on it.
It raises the question: Does practice even matter at this level?
“If you asked any hockey person, they’d have a different answer,” Evason said. “I think what we try to do as a coaching staff is stay as fresh as we can.”
While the obvious answers is, yes, practice can help a team look sharper, it becomes much more during such a condensed schedule.
There isn’t a lot of sense in skating a team into the ground if there’s a game a little more than 24 hours later.
That explains why Evason already has cancelled a couple of practices so early in the season. And he hinted he likely will cancel even more over the next couple of months.
“It’s constant communication within our group,” he said. “I don’t think anything’s going to be uniform, to be honest.”
It’s something the Wild will have to get used to as the season progresses. The most important thing is that everyone seems to be on the same page so far.
“It’s day by day,” Evason said. “If they get a text saying we’re going to practice, then we’re going to practice. If they get a text it’s video today, we’ll have video. Our group is very flexible in that regard, and we think that’ll help us down the road.”
After suffering a lower-body injury in the first period of last Friday’s 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks, goaltender Cam Talbot should be back on the ice soon. That said, he did not partake in Tuesday’s morning skate, meaning goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen was scheduled to make his second straight start in that night’s game against the Los Angeles Kings, with Andrew Hammond serving as the backup.
Asked if he expected Talbot on the ice for Wednesday’s practice, Evason sidestepped the question.
“We’ll see,” Evason said. “He’s getting closer.”
Nico Sturm was back in the lineup for Tuesday’s game. He missed the past couple of games with an illness, with Brad Hunt taking his place in the lineup.
As solid as Hunt played, Evason seemed happy to have Sturm back alongside Victor Rask and opposite Ryan Hartman.
“It’s great,” Evason said. “He provides us with speed. He provides us with a physical presence. He provides us with an energy level that helps the hockey club. We’re looking forward to having him back.”