The Wild’s lineup is unclear heading into tonight’s oh-so important game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Veteran center Matt Cullen was a surprise presence at this morning’s skate, but defenseman Ryan Suter did not skate. However, it was an optional skate, so it’s uncertain if Suter is a gametime decision or won’t play. Devin Setoguchi, Kyle Brodziak, Clayton Stoner, Mike Rupp and Zenon Konopka didn’t skate either this morning. It’s unclear if they all took their options or are banged up. One guy I know is hurt is Konopka. He left the rink in a walking cast this morning and I’m pretty sure he has been playing on a broken foot. No chance Konopka, who has been playing the fourth line, would have exercised his option otherwise. Coach Mike Yeo, usually as truthful as he can be about the lineup, was coy this morning. “Actually I’m not going to talk about the lineup,” Yeo said when asked about Cullen. A couple more attempts by us wretched reporters, and he said, “We’re just trying to keep you guessing. It’s working.” A question about Suter, and Yeo said, “I’ll say this again actually. I’m not going to talk about the lineup.” Suter has been playing hurt for a couple weeks. I guessed the other night he may have pulled a muscle in the game. I’m pretty positive that’s not the case now and he’s been dealing with another lingering issue that was aggravated the other night. Even if he plays, he won’t be 100 percent. Same with Cullen. When Cullen returns, whether tonight or maybe the road trip, it’s obvious it’s because of the urgency of the situation. No chance he is fully healed. GM Chuck Fletcher told me during the skate he didn’t think Cullen would play tonight, but he wasn’t entirely sure. He said there’s a risk of aggravating the injury, so they’ve got to be somewhat cautious. Cullen certainly skated this morning like he wants to play tonight, but he hasn’t practiced in 12 days. So tonight may be pushing it. If Suter doesn’t play, the blue line has to step up to take his 27-plus minutes a game. Assuming Stoner isn’t also hurt and Suter doesn’t play tonight, the pairs should look like Jonas Brodin-Jared Spurgeon; Stoner-Tom Gilbert; Justin Falk-Nate Prosser. Nik Backstrom obviously in goal. As of yesterday, the lines looked like Parise-Koivu-Coyle; Zucker-Granlund-Setoguchi; Bouchard-Brodziak-Pominville; Rupp-Mitchell-Clutterbuck. When Cullen returns, there’s a chance maybe Granlund moves to wing and Bouchard is taken out. But Yeo is hoping for an offensive outburst from a team that's been shut out in three of four. The Wild apparently just had enough cap space to get Zucker here without putting Josh Harding or Dany Heatley on long term injury reserve to gain extra cap space. But if the injuries keep mounting, and Fletcher indicated there are other guys legitimately hurt, the Wild will have to LTI somebody to gain extra space. That could be a way to eventually get Marco Scandella here, perhaps? The only way last night could have been worse for the Wild is if Detroit and Phoenix had won in overtime. Instead, the Red Wings lost in a shootout and the Coyotes lost in overtime to only get one point. But Dallas and Columbus won, meaning those four teams right behind the slumping Wild got closer. The Wild’s now three up on ninth heading into tonight’s game. Basically, it’s simple. The Wild, which has lost six of eight, controls its own destiny. It must start winning. Asked about the standings, Yeo, at first, wasn’t pleased the topic was brought up.
Status of Suter, Cullen tonight unclear; Konopka injured
Minneapolis Star Tribune | Apr 13