Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Mikael Granlund, Darcy Kuemper out; Jake Dowell, John Curry recalled

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news, Wild practice Updated: April 2, 2014 - 10:30 AM

With Darcy Kuemper sidelined with an upper-body injury, the Wild has recalled John Curry from the Iowa Wild to back up Ilya Bryzgalov (4-0-2, 2.15 GAA) Thursday night against the Chicago Blackhawks. If Kuemper is out for awhile, the Wild has one back-to-back left (at Winnipeg on Monday, vs. Boston on Tuesday). Bryzgalov would probably get both games.

The Wild has also recalled center Jake Dowell, a former Blackhawk, with Mikael Granlund likely sidelined for a bit with an upper-body injury.

Coach Mike Yeo could either put Dowell or Cody McCormick as fourth-line center. I'd think Erik Haula moves up to second-line center because the Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Charlie Coyle line is going real well, so why fiddle with that and bounce Coyle back to center again?

I saw Granlund after the game in L.A., and he had a red raspberry-looking mark under his left eye. He was walking slowly and definitely had a disappointed look on his face when talking to teammate Mikko Koivu.

Replays show that Granlund's head smacked right into Kings forward Jarret Stoll's left shoulder as Granlund got the worst of a check he tried to make.

Granlund, who has a history of concussions, missed 13 of 14 games with a concussion earlier this season after taking three hard hits in a six-game stretch from Toronto's Nazem Kadri, Ottawa's Marc Methot and Phoenix's Connor Murphy (actually, similarly, Granlund tried to initiate this check and got the worst of it when Murphy protected himself).

The one game Granlund played in that stretch, he lasted 29 seconds, so that was basically a missed game.

The Wild struggled without Granlund. In that 14-game stretch, Minnesota went 6-7-1 with 23 goals. But, remember, this is a Wild team that survived with Koivu, Zach Parise, Jared Spurgeon and Josh Harding out at the same time, so it has proven before that it is, dare I say, resilient (I actually hate that term in sports, so I may as well use it).

No doubt Yeo gives the old day-to-day line with Granlund, but we'll try to find out more after today's 1:30 p.m. practice in Chicago. Obviously, if it's a concussion, there's just no way to accurately give a timetable, so it would be truthfully day-to-day. These head injuries with Granlund are becoming a true concern. Remember, he came to the NHL with a history of them.

I never saw Nino Niederreiter after the L.A. game, but word yesterday was it's not supposed to be serious and he's considered questionable for Thursday's game. I'll let you know on Twitter in three hours if Niederreiter indeed practices. If he doesn't and can't play Thursday, the Wild has Dany Heatley waiting in the wings. The Wild is 2-0 without Heatley, incidentally.

Christian Folin, signed out of UMass-Lowell Monday, will practice for the first time today. He is eligible to play in any of the remaining six regular-season games (not playoff eligible). I cannot imagine Yeo plays him until he gets some practice time under his belt and only if there comes a point where maybe the Wild's locked into that top wildcard spot later next week.

Who knows if the Wild will ever get that breathing room. Dallas took over the second wildcard spot last night, has a game in hand and a cupcake schedule the rest of the season. The Stars are playing outstanding right now and just annihilating teams. Phoenix, which could be in trouble, lost in a shootout last night to Winnipeg, fell to ninth and plays in L.A. tonight.

Both teams are four back of Minnesota, which just further displays how gigantic the Wild's comeback wins at Detroit, Phoenix and Los Angeles were.

Yeo's in a tricky spot with Folin. I'm always fascinated when a team is still in a playoff race and then parachutes a rookie into the locker room. Chicago's done that with Teuvo Teravainen and Matt Carey and has lost three in a row. I think the smartest thing to do is just practice Folin and play him the last game or two if the Wild's locked and the team wants to rest guys like Ryan Suter or Jared Spurgeon.

Speaking of D, it'll be interesting to see if the Wild plays Jon Blum against Chicago. The Wild's won two in a row and got solid play from its blue line. But Keith Ballard could be ready to return. If Ballard returns, one would think it would be for Blum. If that were the case, I'd think Marco Scandella and Jonas Brodin become a pair again and Ballard gets paired with Nate Prosser.

I'll be back later after practice to update the blog, but follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/russostrib for real-time updates later.

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