Dane Mizutani / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL — Krissy Wendell admitted she was a little hesitant when approached about practicing with the Minnesota Wild as part of the second annual Minnesota Wild Girls Hockey Weekend. "I was like, 'Do I really want to be out in a practice with a bunch of NHL guys?' " said Wendell, a former Gophers women player and two-time U.S. Olympian who retired more 10 years ago. "It would've been hard when I was playing, much less now that I've been removed."
ST. PAUL — Zach Parise huffed and puffed as he entered the Wild locker room after practice on Friday, Dec. 15, the first time he has fully worked out with the team since surgery more than seven weeks ago to remove a herniated disk. "There's still a ways to go," Parise said. "I think it's getting better and better every day, and my conditioning is getting better, so I'm still going down the right path."
ST. PAUL — Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk missed practice Wednesday, Dec. 13, with a lower-body injury, and it remains unclear how long he will be out of the lineup. Dubnyk suffered the injury early in the first period of the Tuesday's 2-1 shootout victory over the Calgary Flames. He started to feel pain after moving side to side on a save, and while he managed to finished the period, he did not return after intermission. He was scheduled to have an MRI on Wednesday afternoon.
ST. PAUL — It's been exactly seven weeks since Zach Parise had back surgery to remove a herniated disk, and his road to recovery appears to be going well. Parise started skating on his own about two weeks ago and recently started handling pucks again. He worked out on his own before the Tuesday, Dec. 12, game against the Calgary Flames at the Xcel Energy Center. While there's still no timetable for Parise's return, coach Bruce Boudreau sounded optimistic.
ST. PAUL — In the last two games of a west coast swing, the Wild managed to flip the script on the outlook for the rest of the season, at least temporarily. In the immediate aftermath of a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 5, the sky seemed to be falling on the Wild after a monumental third-period collapse inspired Bruce Boudreau to question his team's intensity, and veteran defenseman Ryan Suter to challenge his teammates.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Charlie Coyle entered Friday's game against the Anaheim Ducks on a five-game point streak. That was enough for him to merit a promotion to the second line with center Mikko Koivu and left wing Jason Zucker. Coyle was playing center during his five-game point streak, but coach Bruce Boudreau felt OK with the move.
LOS ANGELES — Less than 12 hours after coach Bruce Boudreau declared this year's team to be much different than the one that rattled off 12 consecutive victories last December, the Wild proved him right by giving up four unanswered goals in the third period of a 5-2 loss to the Kings at Staples Center on Tuesday, Dec. 5. It was yet another stark reminder that there is something missing from this year's team.
LOS ANGELES — As the winningest player in WNBA history, Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen has played in thousands of basketball games over the course of in her life. Still, in the hours leading up to her season debut as an in-game analyst, the 35-year-old former Gophers star from Hutchinson, Minn., found herself fighting back nerves. "I'm probably more nervous now than I've been for some games that I'm playing in," Whalen said. "It's just so different."
LOS ANGELES — This time last season the Wild were a middling team in the Central Division — 12-8-4 on Dec. 5, 2016 — when they started an epic 12-game winning streak that changed the course of the season. As of Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 5, exactly 365 days later, the Wild were in pretty much the very same spot, 13-10-3 heading into a matchup with the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center.
MINNEAPOLIS — Ryan Murphy's heart dropped last weekend when he learned he would be called up from the minors — and not because the 24-year-old defenseman was sad to be leaving the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League. "After the game my heart dropped when they asked me if I had my passport," Murphy explained. "You know, that's kind of an unwritten rule that we're always supposed to bring our passport on the road."