Mikko Koivu probably won’t play in the Wild’s final two games before the Olympic break.
Monday was four weeks to the day since Koivu’s ankle surgery, and the Wild captain has yet to practice with the team, although he skated on his own again Monday and apparently is feeling good.
A week after surgery, Koivu made clear how badly he wants to represent Finland in the Olympics, but coach Mike Yeo on Monday echoed General Manager Chuck Fletcher from this past weekend by saying, “If he’s not physically capable, then of course we wouldn’t want him to go.”
Koivu is not yet medically cleared. He will see team doctors again this week. But Yeo said it’ll be up to Koivu to determine whether he feels comfortable enough on the ankle to play.
“Even if he’s medically cleared but physically the pain is too much to bear — we’re talking about a great warrior and a guy who plays the game extremely hard, so that’s all going to play into it,” Yeo said. “I don’t want to put words into his mouth. I just know he wants to play. He wants to be over there, he wants to represent his country and he also wants to look out for the best interest for our team.
“So there’s a lot on his mind right now.”
Yeo said if Koivu does decide to participate, it actually could help the Wild after the Olympic break because game experience will help get Koivu back “on top of his game.”
Kuemper to start
Goalie Darcy Kuemper will make his 11th consecutive start Tuesday against Tampa Bay despite giving up eight goals in his past two starts. He was pulled in the Wild’s 5-4 loss at Colorado on Thursday.
Kuemper has been a starter in juniors and the AHL, so he has bounced back after struggles.
But Yeo said: “It’s a different animal when you’re in this league. There’s more pressure and a bigger spotlight. So this is a huge growing moment.”
Left winger Zach Parise was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week after eight points in three games, including three- and four-point games.
“Nice little honor,” Parise said. “I feel a lot better now than I did in December when I was playing [on a broken foot].”
Parise, the captain of the U.S. Olympic team, says he’s trying not to focus on Sochi with two Wild games left before the break.
“We want to end on a good note,” Parise said. “We have to start to push down those teams below us and climb up the standings.”
Spurgeon might play
Yeo said there’s a “very good chance” defenseman Jared Spurgeon will return Tuesday. Spurgeon has missed 14 games because of a foot injury.
Yeo said he’ll put off the decision as to which defenseman — Keith Ballard, Clayton Stoner or Nate Prosser — comes out for Spurgeon.