Marek Zidlicky

Bruce Kluckhohn, Getty Images

Zidlicky takes big hit to head, leaving Wild thin on blue line

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD
  • Star Tribune
  • November 15, 2011 - 10:36 PM

COLUMBUS, OHIO - The Wild won the game Tuesday in Nationwide Arena. But it might have lost another player to a concussion.

Defenseman Marek Zidlicky was lost for the game at 9:04 of the first period when Columbus' Derek Dorsett caught him with a thunderous check in the slot in front of goalie Niklas Backstrom. As Zidlicky fell to the ice, teammate Warren Peters dropped the gloves and fought with Dorsett, who was penalized for the fight, but not the hit.

"He got his bell rung," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "I don't know if it has been diagnosed as a concussion yet, but I know he wasn't able to come back to the game, and I know he got his bell rung."

If Zidlicky is lost to a concussion, he would be the third player lost to such an injury on the just-concluded five-game trip. Winger Guillaume Latendresse was hurt in San Jose on Thursday and defenseman Marco Scandella was hurt in Los Angeles on Saturday.

With Zidlicky out, the Wild defensemen played big minutes -- Jared Spurgeon and Justin Falk each logged more than 23.

If Zidlicky cannot return quickly the Wild would have to make a move. Mike Lundin, who has been out since the start of training camp because of a back injury, has been practicing with the team but might not be ready to return. Greg Zanon does not appear ready to return anytime soon from a groin injury. That means the Wild might have to make a call to its AHL affiliate in Houston. Tyler Cuma and Drew Bagnall might be possibilities.

"We've shown we have young guys who can step up," Yeo said. "If we have to go that route we will."

Back in the bigs

On Tuesday Casey Wellman was promoted. Call it a case of hard work being rewarded.

It was late in training camp when Wellman, a center, was sent down to Houston of the American Hockey League with the simple instruction of: Dominate. It wasn't an easy thing to swallow for Wellman, the former University of Massachusetts star who signed with the Wild in 2010. But the Wild wanted Wellman to match his speed with production, get big-time minutes and a boost in confidence.

He did all of that.

"He has been playing great," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. " We asked him to dominate, and he's been doing that. What I like, from what I've heard and what I've been understanding is that his goals have been the kind of goals that you can score in this league, too."

Wellman, 24, leads Houston and is second in the AHL with 10 goals overall, and his seven power-play goals are best in the AHL. He also ranks second in Houston with 15 points.

Wellman participated in the morning skate, then again in the pregame skate. But, ultimately, Yeo decided to stay with the lineup that won in Anaheim on Sunday, making Wellman a healthy scratch.

But Wellman should get a shot during the team's upcoming six-game homestand.

"They told me I needed to go down there and play well, so I was doing everything I could do," Wellman said. "I got off to a good start."

What Yeo likes best is that Wellman, whose speed always has stood out, has been getting gritty goals in front of the net.

"Obviously he has great skill and a great shot, but goal scorers have to be around the net and score the dirty ones as well," Yeo said.

It's unclear how long Wellman will stay up. His opportunity came in large part because of the concussion sustained by Guillaume Latendresse early in this five-game road swing. Still, Wellman has made the most of this season so far, especially after the disappointment of an injury plagued 2010-11 season. And, perhaps, this will be the time when his production carries over to the NHL. In 27 previous games with the Wild Wellman has scored two goals with four assists and had only 38 shots.

"I think last year was harder for me," Wellman said of being sent to Houston. "This year I was able to get down there, get right to it and get working. ... I just want to get here, I want to prove myself. I feel like I can be here, I feel like I should be here. I just want to get the chance to prove it."

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