Finally, the Wild got some good news on the health front. Mikael Granlund will return to the lineup Tuesday against Vancouver at Xcel Energy Center, playing for the first time since a groin injury sidelined him the day after the season opener Oct. 5 at Detroit.
Granlund went on last week’s road trip to Winnipeg and Calgary, hoping he would be allowed to play. He had to wait a few more days. Tuesday, he will play against his younger brother Markus, who had dinner Monday night at Mikael’s place.
Granlund said he was hurt the day before the season opener and tried to play through the injury, even though he knew “something was a little bit off.’’ He’s expected to be back with his usual linemates, Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker. Devan Dubnyk is set to start in goal.
“For me, this is opening night, at home at least,’’ Granlund said. “I’m really excited.
“It’s tough. You always want to play. We were trying to be smart, and now I’m good to go. We have six games here at home now in a row, so we want to take advantage of that.’’
Coach Bruce Boudreau welcomed the news on a day when forward Zach Parise had back surgery that will keep him out of the lineup for eight to 10 weeks.
“Like any team in the NHL, they get their best player back, it’s going to impact them,’’ Boudreau said. “And (Granlund) is our best player. So hopefully, he’s not rusty, and he’s in pure game form. If he is, then we’re a better team.’’
Former Gopher and Lakeville native Justin Kloos is expected to make his NHL debut Tuesday. He was recalled Monday from Iowa, where he had a goal and two assists in six games. Boudreau said Kloos was called up because he was playing well in Iowa and deserved a chance.
“I feel fortunate and special and privileged to be able to make an NHL debut in my hometown,’’ Kloos said. “I think going through all levels of hockey, you're a little nervous every next step you take. So this is nothing different. Mostly (I feel) excitement.’’
Another player—Vancouver’s Brock Boeser—also will be playing before friends and family. Boeser, of Burnsville, has had an outstanding start to the season; he’s tied for the Canucks’ scoring lead with two goals and four assists and is tied for sixth in scoring among rookies.
Boeser, 20, played two seasons at North Dakota and made his NHL debut at Xcel Energy Center last March, scoring the winning goal in a 4-2 victory.
“Just getting that experience last year helped me a lot going into training camp,’’ Boeser said. “I’m feeling more comfortable each and every game. I feel more confident in myself as every game goes by, so I think I just need to keep up my compete level, and that will take care of everything else.’’