Recovering Rupp not in any rush to return

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 18, 2013 - 12:17 AM
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Wild forward Mike Rupp (right)

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune file

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Mike Rupp was in Minnesota on Sunday visiting family, but the Wild veteran plans to get back on Interstate 35 this week and drive south to extend his conditioning stint.

Rupp had only played three games in four nights for the American Hockey League’s Iowa Wild, his first action since offseason knee surgery. He was originally supposed to rejoin the NHL team, but with the Wild playing well and the lineup not about to change, he decided to play Friday and Saturday for Iowa.

“[Minnesota is] winning hockey games, and I don’t see the lineup changing. So that’s a good thing because I could use these other games with Iowa,” Rupp said by phone Sunday. “This is kind of like training camp for me. I’m trying to improve each game, but as far as the leg goes, I’m really happy the way it’s responded. Each game it’s felt stronger.”

The 33-year-old Rupp, who played 32 games with the Wild last season after being acquired from the Rangers, played center one game and wing the other two.

“The first game, I was doing a lot of circling and stuff I’d probably do in my first exhibition game,” Rupp said. “[Saturday night], it was a little more managing the puck the right way. I felt the second half of the game I was moving the best I have. Now it’s about paying attention to details and playing the game properly.

“But with how things are going in Minny, this is perfect for me — three more hard practices and I can finish off with two games.”

When Rupp is recalled next weekend, he knows there’s a chance he becomes the Wild’s 13th forward.

“I understand. I’ve been around the game a long time,” Rupp said. “The team is going well, so I may just have to bide my time. We have a lot of hockey games coming up. If I have to wait to crack the lineup, that’s fine.”

Dumba back in lineup

Defenseman Matt Dumba, scratched in six of the previous seven games, played Sunday night against the Winnipeg Jets. The rookie had struggled in his previous two games against Chicago and Carolina.

“Those guys are always under the microscope a little more,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “If some of your other defensemen are in the lineup night in and night out and they make a mistake, then you kind of brush it aside. We can’t expect a perfect game from [Dumba]. There’s going to be some mistakes.

“We just have to make sure we keep working to limit those and continue to grow his game. It’s just real important that we show confidence in him.”

Brodin finding his way

Defenseman Jonas Brodin, who had three goals and three assists in his first nine games, entered Sunday’s with no points and one shot in seven games since returning from a broken cheekbone. He had also turned lots of pucks over.

“The confidence isn’t quite there yet. You can tell,” Yeo said before Sunday’s game. “It’s just a matter of building his game back … to the level he was at before the injury.”

Etc.

• Johan Gustafsson backed up Josh Harding on Sunday night, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the Wild flips goaltenders Monday and recalls Darcy Kuemper. The Wild leaves Monday for a two-game trip to Montreal and Ottawa, and Kuemper might start Wednesday against the Senators. He gave up three goals on seven shots in a 4-1 loss at Toronto on Oct. 15, but goalie coach Bob Mason said Sunday: “He’s got to turn the page. It happens.”

• Keith Ballard missed his fifth consecutive game because of broken ribs. Fellow defenseman Nate Prosser was a healthy scratch.

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