Mikko Koivu is back. That's him with determined eyes just before he butt-ends the heck out of the glass in front of me as I did KFAN this morning.
Now you know he's close to a return.
When is he targeting? Koivu isn't saying. But he and Guillaume Latendresse will go on the upcoming road trip.
If all goes well, there's a practice in Minnesota on Wednesday, morning skate in Denver on Thursday, practice in Dallas on Friday and a game in Dallas on Saturday. Is Saturday too soon? If so, there's scheduled practices Sunday and Monday at home and a game in Columbus on Tuesday.
That'd be my guess, but that's with no information at all. I just think that's what he's targeting. He's shooting the puck real well, but he says it's not 100 percent and the team and Koivu has to be confident that the captain can both take and receive hits. He says there's a difference between practicing and playing.
So while he may be ahead of schedule, Koivu said he won't rush it and "at the end, it's a matter of when you play your first game. You can be practicing and stuff, but when you play your first game, then we'll see if I'm really ahead of schedule."
So while he and Latendresse were bumped a little bit at the end of today's skate, they haven't been cleared yet for full contact.
"It feels good to see the progress from last week, that I'm able to shoot the puck and skate. It helps conditioning wise," Koivu said.
As for tonight, same lineup for the Wild as in Denver before the break -- except for Josh Harding in the cage.
Coach Mike Yeo said it's time for one of the goalies to take the bull by the horn and run with it. It almost sounds like these next two games are a tryout for that. Harding starts today, and the plan right now is for Niklas Backstrom to start in Denver. Yeo said, "Not too many times do you look at a team as being successful and they're bouncing back and forth from one goalie to another. ... We're not just going to give it to anybody. Somebody's going to have to step up and grab it. So we'll use these next two games. That would be the perfect situation. That's what we would like to have happen."
Marek Zidlicky, Brad Staubitz and Mike Lundin are scratched for a third straight game.
This Zidlicky thing is coming to a head. I can sense it. Stay tuned on that.
The Wild hopes to extend its two-game winning streak tonight against the Predators, who have won 9 of 10, are scoring goals and giving up little. It'll be interesting to see how both teams play after a week off with only one practice each.