While waiting for Mikael Granlund to return to the lineup, Bruce Boudreau began to feel like an expectant father anticipating the birth of a child.
The Wild coach endured two false alarms last week, when the winger accompanied the team to games in Winnipeg and Calgary but was held out to make sure his groin injury was thoroughly healed.
Finally, Granlund was delivered back to the Wild on Tuesday. He rejoined linemates Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker for his first game since the season opener Oct. 5 at Detroit, making his season debut at Xcel Energy Center as the Wild faced Vancouver.
Boudreau was relieved to have last season’s leading scorer back in his injury-depleted lineup, and Granlund was glad his patience did not have to be tested further.
“I’m not going to lie. I wanted to get back,’’ Granlund said. “You want to be out there playing, but you want to be smart.
“You don’t want to be battling with this kind of stuff for a long time. So let’s just get it healthy. And now, I’m ready to go.’’
Granlund said he was injured the day before the season opener. He felt “something was a little bit off’’ but tried to play through it.
The timing of Granlund’s return allowed him to play against his younger brother, Markus, a winger on the Canucks’ fourth line.
With Charlie Coyle (broken fibula) and Nino Niederreiter (sprained ankle) still on the mend — and Zach Parise lost for eight to 10 weeks after back surgery Tuesday — some forwards from the team’s AHL affiliate in Iowa are getting an opportunity to step up.
The latest to be called up was Justin Kloos, a former Gophers forward from Lakeville who played his first NHL game Tuesday.
Kloos, who was signed as a free agent last spring, had a goal and two assists in six games with Iowa before his recall. Boudreau said his strong play and his speed won him a chance to get a taste of NHL competition.
“The reports are that he’s playing good down there,’’ Boudreau said. “We’re big on the reward system up here. If you’re playing good and you deserve it, you’re going to get a chance.’’
Kloos said the Iowa Wild has dealt with injuries, too, which has allowed him to get more ice time and build confidence.
“I think going through all levels of hockey, you’re a little nervous every next step you take,’’ he said.
“So this is nothing different. Certainly I feel fortunate and special and privileged to be able to make an NHL debut in my hometown.’’
Back home again
Another local player had a joyous homecoming Tuesday. Vancouver winger Brock Boeser, a Burnsville native who played two seasons at North Dakota, is among the NHL’s rookie scoring leaders and is tied with Derek Dorsett as the Canucks’ top scorer (two goals, four assists).
Boeser played his first NHL game against the Wild last March, scoring the winning goal in a 4-2 Canucks victory at Xcel.
After a practice Monday, he got to spend the night at his parents’ home and spend time with some of the 40-plus friends and family members who planned to attend Tuesday’s game.
“Just getting that experience last year helped me a lot going into training camp,’’ said Boeser, who added he was “way more calm’’ before Tuesday’s game than he was before his debut last spring.
“I’m feeling more comfortable each and every game. I just need to keep up my compete level, and that will take care of everything else.’’
Canucks coach Travis Green is delighted with the progress of Boeser, selected 23rd overall by Vancouver in the 2015 NHL draft.
Entering Tuesday’s game, Boeser was tied for sixth in scoring and ranked fifth in assists among NHL rookies.
“He’s coming along nicely,’’ Green said. “He’s got a bright future if he keeps going in this direction.’’
• Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said forward Landon Ferraro, who left Friday’s loss at Winnipeg with a hip flexor injury, will miss one or two weeks.
• The Wild scratched defenseman Gustav Olofsson.