Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Zach Parise expected to miss some games for struggling Wild

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news Updated: December 27, 2013 - 8:47 AM

Update: My presumption below was correct. Stephane Veilleux was recalled again with Parise hurt. In addition, Josh Harding is also rejoining the team today. We'll see later if it's at all possible if he can start. Johan Gustafsson is also on the trip, I believe, so three goalies coming to Winnipeg.

Evening from Winnipeg, where it's colder than Anaheim and San Jose, which was the front end of this stretch of 16 days out of 19 for me on the road.

So you won't have to endure any weather bragging from me the next few days.

The Christmas break officially ends Friday morning. The Wild will reassemble at MSP for the relatively short flight north for a game Friday night against the Central Division rival Winnipeg Jets.

I'm certain Zach Parise won't be on that flight.

The Wild hasn't confirmed, but my educated guess is Parise will miss an uncertain amount of games with his lower-body injury that I assume is an aggravation of the injured foot he has been playing on for more than three weeks.

For a team that lacks confidence and has 22 goals in the past 15 games and must dig deep and figure out a way to stop the bleeding and climb back into the top-8, Parise's absence comes out a bad time.

Parise blocked a shot by Alex Steen on Nov. 25. Coincidentally - or maybe not, the Wild is 5-9-1 since and 1-7-1, including that game in St. Louis, on the road since.

Parise was supposed to miss two to three weeks because of the bum foot but instead missed one game because he felt he could play through the injury and because of how difficult a stretch of games the Wild had coming up.

Commendable, but Parise was clearly playing through pain and the last week to 10 days, his off-ice limp was getting more and more pronounced. You could see it on the ice, too.

My educated guess is Parise will now need to stay off the foot for a little while so it doesn't linger any longer. How long? No clue, but this time doctors may have more say than Parise.

This being the case, the Winnipeg game almost certainly won't be the only one Parise misses.

Hindsight's 20-20, but if Parise and the Wild knew the team was going to struggle like it has the past few weeks, I'm betting Parise would have taken some time off to get the foot better.

Now the foot hasn't healed and he'll need to miss some games with the Wild struggling and in bad need of a rebound during this upcoming four-game homestand after the Jets game.

It's clear he has been playing hurt. During the 1-7-1 road stretch, Parise has no goals and one assist in 8 of those games (he missed the game before the break in Philly).

So it's gut check time for the Wild, which has fallen to ninth.

I'm thinking Stephane Veilleux might be recalled again because he didn't play tonight for Iowa. He was sent down after the Flyers game because there was no sense keeping him up only to have his cap hit charged to the team

Like all NHL teams, the Wild hasn't practiced in three days. Like 10 other teams in this league, it'll now have to get on an abnormal morning charter, fly to a road game and play on the same night.

It'll be a tough one to say the least.

The big question is whether Josh Harding will be on the flight, and if so, what his health situation is. He was expected to rejoin the Wild for the trip north after missing the past three games to have his treatment for multiple sclerosis altered.

But the Wild didn't confirm Thursday if Harding, Parise or Clayton Stoner would travel, although as I mentioned above, I'm pretty sure Parise is not.

As of now, Johan Gustafsson hasn't officially been reassigned, so I don't know if that's an indication Harding isn't coming. Even if Harding does come, can he start? As of Monday, coach Mike Yeo said he didn't think Harding had been on the ice through this process. If that's true, I can't imagine he'd be able to start because this would be 10 days between Friday and his win last Tuesday against Vancouver.

Anyways, follow me on Twitter on Friday to get the latest news and read my Friday Insider on the Wild's "almost-midseason" analysis.

Friday is Game 40. Game 41 technically closes the first half, but I'm not too good at math - and the way the schedule lines up, Friday's paper makes sense.

That's it for me. Talk to you after the morning skate. Hope you had a good holiday.


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