Wild finding significant benefits in not practicing

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Sarah McLellan, Star Tribune
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The Wild is in contention for not only a top-four, playoff-bound seed but the No. 1 spot overall in the West Division.

Scoring is coming from everywhere, the defense is solid, and goaltending has been the most consistent contributor.

What's behind the success?

"No practice," Ryan Suter said.

He might have a point.

After sagging at the conclusion of last week's road trip, a 5-2 fatigue-fueled loss at Arizona, the Wild has yet to practice since the team has been back home, only getting on the ice at Xcel Energy Center on gamedays.

And the results have suggested a rejuvenated vibe, with the Wild slugging out a 2-0 shutout Monday of Vegas and then finishing off the sweep by holding off the Golden Knights 4-3 on Wednesday in a game that wasn't as close as the final score indicated.

Suter believes taking time to rest can help the team sustain its climb in a compressed season, with the Wild set to cross the halfway point of its 56-game schedule next week, but he also hopes this change becomes the norm.

"I think that's the old-school way [that] we've got to show up," Suter said. "We've got to get to work every day. If we don't skate, we're not getting better. And I think the new studies are showing that rest, we say it jokingly, but rest is a weapon and time away from the rink is a weapon. It's proven to be a positive for us. So, hopefully moving forward we learn from this and continue with it."

Back at centerRyan Hartman was back in action Friday against the Coyotes after a five-game absence due to a lower-body injury suffered March 1 at Vegas.

"It was one of those things that you can't rush," said Hartman, calling the issue a tweak. "You don't want to set yourself back another week. So, you want to make sure it was at 100% before I was back into the swing of things."

Although Hartman didn't reunite with Marcus Foligno and Zach Parise, a line that was cruising for the Wild before Hartman's injury, the 26-year-old was back at center, working with Parise and Kevin Fiala.

"We just feel that that's his spot," coach Dean Evason said. "He's earned that spot. We really like him there. We like a right shot center-ice man there, as well, and love his compete, his battle level. He's taken a step forward for us, for sure. When you do all those things, combine that with his penalty killing, his physicality, he's an important part of our hockey club."

Smooth returnDefenseman Carson Soucy was a healthy scratch last weekend in Arizona, sitting out both games, but he made a smooth return to the lineup, playing sound defensively in the series against Vegas and scoring the game-winner Wednesday. The goal was Soucy's first of the season.

"He played such a strong game," Evason said. "He didn't play a couple games ago. We asked him to be more engaged and the last couple games he's been very engaged. In [Wednesday's] game, he was extremely engaged. The goal's great, but what he did defending, stepping up into the play, he was involved from the drop of the puck. And if he does that, he's an extremely effective player for us."

Etc.•Forward Marcus Johansson continues to skate and participated in the Wild's morning session Friday, but he missed a 12th game in a row because of an upper-body injury.

•The Wild assigned forward Gerald Mayhew to Iowa in the American Hockey League and added forward Joseph Cramarossa to the taxi squad.