With the Wild’s injury problems continuing to drag on, coach Bruce Boudreau resorted to a little black humor. Asked if he was tired of using assistant coach Darby Hendrickson as a practice player—as Boudreau did again on Monday—he laughed. “He’s looking pretty good,’’ the coach said. “I might have to talk about a contract for that man.’’
Mikael Granlund did practice Monday, though his status for Tuesday’s game against Vancouver remains uncertain. Zach Parise was absent from practice again, and Boudreau expects to know more about his condition and availability on Tuesday. “So far as I know, it’s the same as it’s been,’’ he said of Parise’s recovery from an injury that might or might not be to his back.
With Luke Kunin, Zack Mitchell and Cal O’Reilly sent back to Iowa on Sunday, the Wild practiced with 10 healthy forwards—and Hendrickson—on Monday. Defenseman Mike Reilly was recalled from Iowa on Monday and also was on the ice. Additional forwards will be called up to fill out the lineup against the Canucks, a game that begins a six-game home stand.
Granlund said he “felt pretty good’’ after practice and is itching to get back in the lineup after missing five games. “You really want to play, and it’s not easy to watch it,’’ said the winger, who hasn’t played since opening night at Detroit on Oct. 5. “Obviously, you’ve got to be smart. But I don’t want to lie. You want to be out there.’’
Boudreau didn’t complain about being shorthanded at practice again, and he even found a benefit. Defenseman Gustav Olofsson wore a white jersey as part of the fourth line with Matt Cullen and Hendrickson, learning how to fill in at wing.
“Sometimes, we’re going to need a defenseman to play up front,’’ Boudreau said. “(Olofsson) is starting to get better at that, plus he’s getting better at defense. So I think it’s great to have a guy who can do both jobs.’’
Other bits from today’s practice:
--While lots of people are patting the Wild on the back for coming out of its opening six games 2-2-2, Boudreau isn’t among them. He acknowledged the Wild had five of six games on the road and has been decimated by injuries, but that record still isn’t good enough for his taste.
“It’s only positive if we do what we’re supposed to do when we’re at home,’’ he said. “I want the players to understand that it was OK, but it’s not perfect. And if we want to be the best, then we can’t be satisfied with mediocrity.’’
--Boudreau remains surprised by Chris Stewart’s offensive output. The winger has scored a team-high six goals and has a point in every game. “To have the success that he’s had, I wouldn’t have thought that,’’ the coach said. “We’ll keep playing him, and hopefully, it will continue.’’
Count Stewart among those who respectfully disagree with his scoring being a surprise.
“I’ve been an offensive guy in this league, and I know how to score goals,’’ he said. “When I was drafted, this is the player I was drafted to be. You ask anyone in my family or my teammates, they know what I can do out there. I don’t think it’s surprising any more.’’