Spurgeon close to return to Wild lineup

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 31, 2014 - 12:50 AM

– After missing 13 games, Jared Spurgeon is closing in on a return from a foot injury.

The Wild defenseman skated with teammates for the first time Thursday since blocking a shot against the Buffalo Sabres on Jan. 2. Spurgeon then absorbed contact afterward with a few of the extra players and strength and conditioning coach Kirk Olson.

Not only did Mike Yeo say Spurgeon looked good, the coach said there’s a possibility that after a good practice Friday, Spurgeon could return Saturday night against the Calgary Flames.

“It was nice to be out there with the rest of the guys and get the pace of the game back,” Spurgeon told reporters after the morning skate. “It’s been a long time.”

If Spurgeon doesn’t return Saturday, he definitely wants to play next week against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Nashville Predators. Those are the Wild’s final two games before a 20-day break for the Winter Olympics.

“If I don’t get in before, that’s about two months that I haven’t played,” Spurgeon said. “With the game picking up toward the playoffs, it rises up another level. You don’t want to be behind the 8-ball coming back after the Olympic break.”

The Wild was 8-3-1 without Spurgeon before Thursday’s game against Colorado.

“When they’re doing well, it’s a bit easier to watch,” he said. “It makes you want to come back that much faster, but at the same time, it allows you to make sure everything’s healed up properly.”

When Spurgeon returns, it’ll be interesting who Yeo chooses to come out of the lineup. In 12 games before Thursday, Nate Prosser assumed Spurgeon’s role and was plus-8 with two game-winning goals and two assists, so the candidates might be veterans Keith Ballard or Clayton Stoner.

Advancing slowly

Captain Mikko Koivu, who has missed 12 games following ankle surgery, started to get some light contact Thursday. He appears close to ramping it up but hasn’t skated with teammates yet.

“We don’t want to rush anybody back,” Yeo said. “With Mikko, we have to see how this progresses. … Once he can get on the ice with the group, then we’ll be able to determine if he can actually get into a game before the [Olympic] break.”

Zucker sits

Rugged winger Mike Rupp played a third consecutive game Thursday after being scratched in 11 consecutive games and 19 of the previous 22.

That meant speedy youngster Jason Zucker sat for a third consecutive game.

Yeo said Rupp’s physical presence and ability to stand up for teammates is the reason. He said it allows Stoner, one of the few Wild players who will routinely drop the gloves, to focus on playing defense and not “taking on the heavyweight of the other team.” Of course, Stoner fought Cody McLeod less than six minutes into Thursday’s game.

“It’s like having your big brother with you,” Yeo said of Rupp. “You feel a little bit stronger. … Everybody plays a little bit bigger.”

Rupp took a double minor in the third period of Tuesday’s victory at Anaheim because he went after Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa, who earlier nailed Jason Pominville with a high hit. Yeo respected Rupp’s decision because he feels opponents need to understand they can’t take liberties with the Wild’s skilled players.

Iowa benefits

Zucker and center Erik Haula will likely spend the Olympic break playing for AHL Iowa.

“It’s important for those kids to keep playing,” General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. “Their minutes up here aren’t what their minutes would be down there. We need them now and I’m sure we’re going to need them later, too, so it’s important they keep developing.”

Besides veteran Stephane Veilleux, the other candidate who could go to Iowa during the Olympics is goalie Darcy Kuemper.

“We’ll see what makes sense,” Fletcher said.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Diego 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Indiana 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Detroit
Dallas 7:00 PM
New Orleans
NY Islanders 6:00 PM
Boston
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Detroit
Vancouver 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Chicago 7:00 PM
Nashville
Arizona 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Carolina 8:00 PM
Calgary
Buffalo 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Columbus 9:30 PM
San Jose
Connecticut 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Wild player?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close