CHICAGO – Charlie Coyle and Keith Ballard both practiced Friday. Josh Harding and Jonas Brodin aren’t far from playing, but none of the four traveled with the Wild to Chicago for Saturday’s game against the Blackhawks.
“We’ve got a long season here, so we’ve got to look at the big picture whether it’s Hards or whether it’s Charlie or whether it’s Brods,” coach Mike Yeo said. “Obviously these are important games and those guys are important players, but we can’t put somebody out there if they’re not ready and run the risk of them hurting themselves again. We have to be fully confident that they’re 100 percent cleared.”
Defensemen Brodin and Ballard are all doubtful to play in Monday’s rematch against the Blackhawks. Coyle (knee) practiced hard Friday and looked good, and with three practices before then, there’s a chance the second-year center could return Friday against Montreal.
“Possibly. I want to see … when he gets into some battles, where he’s at,” Yeo said. “And I’m not going to expect him to be 100 percent on top of his game, but I don’t want to put him in a position where his leg’s not 100 percent. I want to make sure he’s ready to go.”
The Wild decided to keep Brodin (broken cheekbone) off the ice another day Friday and let the swelling subside.
“It’s not like he’s coming back in two days, so we might as well keep him off for another day and just make sure,” Yeo said.
• Harding, the NHL’s top-ranked goalie, is feeling better from the “lower-body strain” that flared up during Thursday’s victory over Carolina, so he doesn’t seem far off. The Wild recalled Johan Gustafsson to back up Niklas Backstrom on Saturday in Chicago because Darcy Kuemper, who also isn’t 100 percent, is scheduled to start for Iowa against Grand Rapids on Sunday.
• Ballard, who has missed five games, admits he has had concussion-like symptoms and whiplash since being struck with a puck last week in Buffalo.
• The Wild will wear its white road uniforms Monday against Chicago at Xcel Energy Center.