Broken cheekbone can't deter Veilleux

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 12, 2007 - 12:29 AM

DENVER - Wild checker Stephane Veilleux is a different breed.

This is a guy who begged to play one game after having his nose turned sideways last season. So Veilleux was taken aback Sunday when asked whether he expected to be out awhile with a broken left cheekbone.

"I mean, I'm not dead," said Veilleux, whose face looks like he went 12 rounds with Derek Boogaard. "It's just a broken cheekbone. I'll be fine."

Veilleux was nailed by a deflected shot during Saturday's practice. Officially, the Wild can't provide a timetable for Veilleux until the swelling subsides. Veilleux, however, lists his status as "day-to-day."I'll be ready sooner than people think," Veilleux said. "That's how I think always. I have a tough time to accept these things. I'm strong mentally, and I know I can play through little things like this."

Last year, Veilleux only missed three games after breaking his nose in gruesome fashion in Detroit. He returned with what he calls a "bird cage" to protect his face and will have to wear one again.

Veilleux doesn't normally wear a visor, but he says it's gotten to the point where he'll reassess that decision upon his return.

"Sometimes it can help you," Veilleux said, although he added, "[Saturday], it would have been borderline."

Most frustrating for Veilleux is that he is sidelined just when he was playing maybe the best hockey of his career. He's seen significant ice time the past six games, once topping 22 minutes. He's been physical and has scored two goals in his past four games.

"I'm playing with high confidence and create things on the ice by making plays or hits," Veilleux said. "I just got to take some time and hopefully I can get back and play the same game."

Backstrom back in goal

Goalie Niklas Backstrom was able to play against Colorado despite leaving practice early Saturday because of a sore groin.

But right winger Marian Gaborik (groin) didn't feel he was ready.

"It's 85 percent, but I don't think it's enough," Gaborik said. "We'll just wait a couple more days. It's going to get better. Also, I want to feel comfortable that I don't make it worse. It's just not there yet."

Gaborik said he expected to play this road trip. But he's missed two games in a row twice and doesn't want to again come back early, play a few games and then miss a few.

Dominic Moore, who missed the past 13 games because of an abdominal strain, returned.

Voros makes NHL debut

Aaron Voros, the Houston Aeros' leading scoring forward with four goals and eight points, made his NHL debut, a dream come true for the 26-year-old acquired last season from New Jersey. Voros started the game on Mikko Koivu's left wing and fought Jeff Finger in the second period.

Voros had a strong training camp for the Wild, drawing the ire of opponents in exhibitions for his hard hits and agitating style. He leads the Aeros with 46 penalty minutes and four fights.

"I play with [fellow agitator Cal] Clutterbuck, so it's usually sticking up for him," Voros said. "Usually it's not my battle. If a guy doesn't like the way he's been hit or getting hit, usually that starts the fight."

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