Hockey players deal with groin injuries frequently, and they usually are not ailments that would cause the alarm bells to blare.
But after the year Guillaume Latendresse had, don't be surprised if the Wild is overly cautious now that he is complaining again of a wonky groin.
The left winger is expected to miss his second consecutive game Thursday against Anaheim. Latendresse was limited to 11 games last season after undergoing surgery last November to repair two sports hernias, two torn groin muscles and a torn labrum in his hip.
"I haven't been given word that there's real reason to be concerned right now, but certainly that's in the back of your mind," coach Mike Yeo said Tuesday. "Let's make sure we take the necessary amount of time and look at the big picture here and make sure that we don't do any further damage."
Left winger Dany Heatley returned to practice Tuesday after missing Monday's practice because of a sore groin, while defenseman Greg Zanon missed practice because of a groin injury and is expected to miss his second game Thursday.
The Wild has maintained that 19-year-old forward Brett Bulmer will remain in Minnesota past the 10-game threshold as long as he has continued to develop and contribute to the team.
Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher indicated Tuesday that Bulmer, who would play in his ninth game Thursday, likely will not be returned to his junior team, Kelowna of the Western Hockey League.
If Bulmer plays 10 games, the first season of his three-year contract will be burned. If he stays on the Wild roster for 40 games, he'll become an unrestricted free agent in six years as opposed to seven.
"Every day in the NHL is an important day, so if he's continuing to develop and improve as a player and making contributions to our team, then I'm not sure why we're bringing academic arguments into the equation," Fletcher said. "If he can't keep up or he's not contributing, then clearly it's in everyone's best interest to send him back. But to me, he's a much better player today than he was the first day of training camp."
Bulmer is playing on the third line and could see a second consecutive game of power-play duty Thursday. He has three assists in eight games.
"There will be lots of challenges for Brett," Fletcher said, "but he seems to be the type of kid that relishes those challenges as opposed to getting concerned about them."
As long as Latendresse doesn't play, Cal Clutterbuck will move up to the Heatley-Mikko Koivu line, while Devin Setoguchi will play right wing on a line with Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Matt Cullen.
"Mikko, Heater and Seto, there's no question they're putting a lot of pressure on themselves, and when that happens, quite often you lose your focus in other areas that can help you get to your game," Yeo said.
So Yeo will try the physical Clutterbuck on the top line, saying, "He's been one of the top guys as far as buying in."
Yeo unveiled new power-play units Tuesday.
The first unit will be Heatley-Koivu-Clutterbuck, with Cullen and Marek Zidlicky at the points. The second unit will have Marco Scandella and Jared Spurgeon at the points, while Bouchard and Setoguchi will skate with Bulmer, Kyle Brodziak or Nick Johnson, depending on the situation.
Yeo wants players to have clearly defined roles. For instance, on the first unit, Clutterbuck will be the "net front guy," while Heatley is the "shooter." On the second unit, Bulmer, Brodziak or Johnson will go to the net, while Setoguchi is the shooter.