MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WCCO) — Its’ a pregame skate in Milwaukee. Milwaukee is not an NHL city, so this is not where they want to be.

Ryan Carter is here trying to rehab from injury and see if he can get back to the NHL level. He played in the big leagues long enough to know where he needs to be to get back.

“I don’t think my game’s as strong as I’d like it to be, but it’s getting there,” Carter said. “Every day or every game I guess – the schedule hasn’t worked out where we’re playing a lot of games, so it’s kind of been a break in between games. It’s coming around, little pieces of the game are coming at different times.”

Mike Reilly is a defenseman in Iowa. He’s been up and down since he came on board from the Gophers, and he could get another shot. It’s the tough part of this ride, to have tasted the NHL and not be there.

“It’s been a little bit up and down all year, but definitely feel like I’m getting better and obviously the team up there is doing great,” Reilly said. “You know, I think I definitely deserve a call-up here soon.”

For Alex Tuch, it’s different. He’s only 20 years old, so he knows his best days are ahead. But he wants to start his clock running now. He’s been there long enough to know this is a tough lineup to crack.

“Just consistently play hard and keep my intensity levels up and continue to produce,” Tuch said. “I think that’s 50 percent of it but the other 50 percent is that Minnesota’s such a good hockey team that it’s almost impossible to crack the lineup, especially after the trade deadline.”

See this game gets in your blood, and when it does, and when the big club is contending, you want in. It’s like an addiction.

“Just staying ready and hopefully if I get a good chance, they can get another good look at me and go from there,” Reilly said. “I definitely want to be a part of that playoff run up there and it’s going good down here too. Just trying to stay ready and stay focused.”

Because the only reason to be here is to play at the next level — and play for the Stanley Cup.

“There’s no question for me, at this age and where I’m at in my career, it’s not about playing or money or whatever. It’s about winning and kind of the legacy a little bit, what I want to do, what I want to say when I’m done,” Carter said. “There’d be nothing better than to win a cup at home in Minnesota.”


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