After getting a little rest around the holiday break, PucKato is back!
I'm writing this from the Verizon Wireless Center where the Mavericks are practicing in preparation for Friday night's exhibition game against the U.S. Under-18 National Team.
A few observations from practice:
• Mike Louwerse, who left the Friday game against Colorad College in the first period with an upper-body injury is not skating today. He said he's out for a couple more weeks.
• Defenseman Brett Stern (upper body) is skating but is wearing a white helmet with red crosses on it. This is a new thing for MSU, I believe. I've heard of other teams incorporating red-cross jerseys or ones designated for no contact. Not sure how long Stern will remain out.
• Defenseman Danny Heath is skating but with a track suit similar to ones the coaches wear. Good to see him back on the ice, but I believe he remains out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.
UPDATE: Coach Troy Jutting is clearly tired of talking about injuries, since they began happening on the first game of the season. He did not give a timeline to any of the players' return to action. "Until they're out there," he said. Louwerse, Stern, Heath and Chase Grant, who is out for the season after having hip surgery earlier this month, are all out for Friday's game.
• Staying on the subject of defensemen, Joe Schiller is skating as a forward today. Injuries have put him on the blue line most of the season. I wonder how long he'll stay up front. Speculation here, but I"m guessing he's playing forward tomorrow so the coaches can get a look at freshman Mat Knoll back on D. Knoll has played in 11 games this season. Or they're preparing for Stern's eventual return. With Louwerse out, the Mavericks need a boost at center. Remember: Schiller began the season as the team's No. 1-line center.
UPDATE: Jutting said Schiller likely will play both F and D throughout the rest of the season, whether that's during games or within games. "It gives us the opportunity to have seven defensemen if we need it because of injury or whatever," Jutting said, "and we'll still have the ability to play 12 forwards. It's great when you have the flexibility of a guy like Joe."
More to come Friday morning in the Friday Morning Skate.