Twin Cities residents were perhaps perturbed

Matt Cullen’s drive to work Friday morning was another reminder that he made the right choice when he decided to put off retirement and sign with the Wild this offseason.

While many Twin Cities residents were perhaps perturbed by the first snowfall of the year, the 40 year old Cullen smiled when asked about it.

“It’s fun to see it,” said Cullen, a native of Virginia, Minn. “I don’t know that everybody is as excited. I love it.”

As far as Cullen is concerned, Minnesota will always have his heart. Not his full heart, though; part of that was left in Pittsburgh, where he won Stanley Cups with the Penguins the past two seasons.

“It was a second home for us,” he said. “It was awfully hard to say goodbye. … I absolutely loved my experience there. Just an unbelievable place to play.”

Cullen expects the emotions to come flooding back when the Wild take on the Penguins at 7 p.m. Saturday at Xcel Energy Center.

“It will be different on an emotional level,” said Cullen, who has played for eight teams in his 20 year NHL career. “Just seeing those guys again after everything that went on the last couple years will be fun.”

Cullen joked that his sons — Brooks, Wyatt and Joey — will likely be torn about which team to cheer for. They understandably grew quite fond of the Penguins over the past two years.

“It will be interesting to see what they’re wearing for jerseys,” Cullen said. “They had a pretty good setup in Pittsburgh and were at the rink an awful lot. Those guys are like a lot of uncles to them. It will be fun. They will be around.”

Cullen still keeps in touch with a lot of his former teammates and planned to hold dinner party at his house Friday night. When the puck drops on Saturday, though, those friendships go out the window.

At least for a few hours.

“I just look at it as another game in the season,” Cullen said. “They are obviously a very good team, so when the game starts, it’s a game.”


It took Nino Niederreiter about five minutes to catch his breath Friday after being bag skated into the ice after the conclusion of practice. Though he has skated with the team two days in a row Kyle Quincey Jersey, Niederreiter admitted that his wind isn’t where it was before he suffered a high ankle sprain that has kept him out of four games.

As for the practice, Niederreiter got some quality reps with Jason Zucker out for the birth of his son and Mikko Koivu and Matt Cullen getting maintenance days.

“It was good for me to double shift right away and get some momentum going and get a lot of touches and get some shots off,” Niederreiter said. “A practice like that, that’s what I need.”

Niederreiter said his ankle has responded well over the past couple of days.

“It was good, and even right now after the bag skate it still feels good,” he said. “We’ll see how tomorrow goes and go from there.”

Does that mean he might be able to play against the Penguins on Saturday?

“He’s getting better,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I don’t know if that’s the day or if Tuesday’s the day because ankle sprains are weird things. I guess it depends on him and his confidence and what trainer John Worley says and what general manager Chuck Fletcher says.

“We’ll be happy to have him back any time he can come back, I just don’t know the date that’s going to happen.”
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