Setoguchi's return could boost Wild

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 3, 2012 - 12:10 AM

The Wild needs to get healthy and halt this slump.


Minnesota Wild's Devin Setoguchi

Photo: Jim Mone, Associated Press

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The Wild put in a long workday Monday at Xcel Energy Center with the objective of refining an out-of-sync game that has led to a 1-6-3 slide.

But getting injured players back can only help, and three returned to practice, including first-line winger Devin Setoguchi. Missing 12 games because of a knee injury, Setoguchi said there's "definitely a good chance" he returns Wednesday when the Wild opens a two-game road trip in Vancouver. The Wild could use the offensive boost the former 30-goal scorer could provide.

"We're going to have to make sure that he's ready," coach Mike Yeo said. "We don't want to bring him back too early, but we could use him right now. And I thought he looked really good today. I didn't think his conditioning looked like it was an issue.

"When you see him out there and you see his skill level, the fact of the matter is we've been missing some of that."

Setoguchi has scored eight goals and 13 points in 28 games. The Wild has gone 3-6-3 without him, falling from first in the conference to fifth before Monday's action.

"You never want to miss games, especially if your teammates are losing," Setoguchi said. "So you want to be back as quick as possible. But at same time you don't want to come back too early and do something where you jeopardize it again."

The Wild will see how he holds up after Tuesday's practice. Setoguchi said he got his wind back and his legs under him surprisingly quick Monday. He certainly looked as if he would be returning -- he took his normal spot on the top line with Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley and was thrust right into the No. 1 power play.

Winger Casey Wellman, who has missed nine games because of a wrist injury, and defenseman Clayton Stoner, who missed four games because of a groin injury, also returned to practice.

Monday was mostly a teaching practice. The team worked on special teams, forechecking and defensive-zone coverage.

"It wasn't just the work and the sweat," Yeo said. "We got a lot accomplished as far as the tactical parts that we needed to work on ... a lot of the structure of our game."

Part of this is getting a quality forecheck going again so it can get back to drawing power plays. They have been few and far between lately.

"It's using our speed and driving to areas and forcing them to defend," Yeo said. "At times right now, we're sort of going and seeing a guy in front of us and just accepting it. We have to fight past that guy."

Overloaded D

With Stoner practicing, Yeo said the Wild would take nine defensemen on the road trip. Typically, six dress in a game.

Mike Lundin has been scratched in five of the past six games, Greg Zanon in four of the past nine games.

In Saturday's loss to Phoenix, Marco Scandella was scratched.

"His game has slipped a little bit the last few," Yeo said of Scandella, a minus-6 in his past four games. "Unfortunately for him, pucks have ended up in our net a few too many times when he's been on the ice lately, and that's not all on him.

"This is just part of his development [as a young defenseman]. He's been a huge part of our team this season."

Yeo said he's noticed Scandella, 21, has had a tough time recovering from a bad shift or play.

"He seems to carry that play into [his next shift]," Yeo said.

But Scandella likely will return against the Canucks, meaning two others will need to be scratched -- excluding Stoner, who is working his way back.

"I don't like scratching guys, but you can only dress 20," Yeo said.

Yeo so far has avoided scratching veterans Marek Zidlicky and Nick Schultz, who have been up and down. Yeo admitted they have been looked at "differently," but he added there are no "untouchables."

"We all have to be held to a standard," he said.

Torres suspended

Phoenix's Raffi Torres was suspended two games for a shot to Nate Prosser's head Saturday -- the same day Torres was fined for a similar infraction. Prosser was uninjured.


    Up next: 9 p.m. Wednesday at Vancouver • TV: FSN Plus (100.3-FM)

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