One of the Wild's biggest strengths is its mobile blue line, but that group suffered a big blow Tuesday night when Jonas Brodin broke a finger.
He had an appointment with a hand specialist Wednesday at noon. While the Wild didn't provide the extent of Brodin's injury after Wednesday's practice, GM Chuck Fletcher said he expects Brodin will be out at least a few weeks, but he doesn't know if the timetable's two or three weeks or four or six.
Maybe things change after the appointment, but sources are telling me that before the appointment, the team was expecting he'd miss four weeks and shouldn't need surgery. Even with the All-Star break, this will be a good chunk of games with the condensed schedule coming up.
Brodin, 23, the 10th overall pick in the 2011 draft, has scored three goals and 16 points in 43 games. Big bounceback year after a seven-point season a year ago, and frankly, the Wild's defense always has taken a turn for the worse without Brodin.
He's the epitome of you don't know what you've got until it's missing.
In the short-term, coach Bruce Boudreau said veteran Nate Prosser will probably draw into the lineup Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes, but Boudreau planned to call Iowa coach Derek Lalonde this afternoon to seek his recommendation for a callup.
One would think the Wild will recall one of left-shot Mike Reilly or Gustav Olofsson. By now you know the scouting reports: If the Wild wants a speedy thoroughbred with offensive upside and to take Brodin's spot on the power play, Reilly makes sense. If the Wild wants a safer, more defensively responsible player to take Brodin's spot, Olofsson makes sense.
We shall see.
It was interesting that Brodeau said, "I don't know what position [Prosser's] going to play yet, but he’ll probably play."
If he plays the right side, that would mean the callup's also likely playing the left side and he's thinking of sitting a right-shot D -- Matt Dumba or Christian Folin.
We shall see.
On Brodin, Boudreau said, "He’s a good player, so it’s a big loss if he’s out any time. But good teams persevere in this. We don’t fold like an accordion. Somebody else gets into the lineup and he’s got to do just as good."
Boudreau said it's foolish to compare Prosser and Brodin because they're completely different players.
"It’s a chance," Boudreau said for Prosser, who has been scratched six games in a row and nine of the past 10. "Pross is a hard-working guy that's been doing the same job for two or three years now. Brods is a power-play guy, a penalty-killing guy and everything else. He’s a special guy, but Pross is going to get in there, whether it's left side, right side or center ice, he’s going to do a good job."
Boudreau reminded he has had no problem with Prosser, that it's just that the Wild has seven good defensemen and he felt Folin needed to play consistently to get his game back on track.
As for the loss to New Jersey -- the Wild's second in regulation since Nov. 29, Boudreau said reviewing the video, the Wild played a solid first 35 minutes and things turned when the Devils scored their power-play goal late in the second.
"Third period was a train wreck," Boudreau said.
Most disconcerting, Boudreau said, is the fact the Wild's typically such a good 5-on-5 defensive team.
Eric Staal and Charlie Coyle didn't practice today, but they were walking around fine and Boudreau said they're fine. Boudreau did indicate he met with a "few" members of the Staal line, which could be any couple of Zach Parise, Staal, Coyle and Jason Pominville.
I'm fairly certain Pominville was one of the "few."
"The whole team saw the video session,but there were stars of the video, and it wasn’t them necessarily, but there were individual stars," Boudreau said.
Also, a couple other tidbits.
He'd like to see more from Tyler Graovac, who has three goals and no assists this season and one point in the past 26 games.
"He does an adequate job for the position he’s in right now," Boudreau said.
I once was told that an article I wrote on Mitch Richmond was "adequate."
I didn't take it as a compliment.
But Boudreau said Graovac "works hard, he’s a young guy, he’s getting better all the time. It's something you have to be patient with. His time will come."
Also, Erik Haula scored last night. Boudreau hasn't been delighted with his game lately.
"Haulz can bring more, but maybe that goal was a stepping stone yesterday for confidence," Boudreau said.
Hell's Kitchen tonight, 6 p.m., Russo-Souhan Show. Be there or be square