After an NHL suspension forced Ryan Suter into a spectator’s role for two games, Wild coach Mike Yeo asked the defenseman to take it easy. Suter again leads the NHL with 29 minutes, 34 seconds of ice time per game, and Yeo saw the layoff as an opportunity for him to rest.
While his teammates defeated Arizona on Saturday, Suter played goalie in a knee-hockey game with his son, Brooks, in an Xcel Energy Center suite. Monday, he returned to the arena’s ice, logging a game-high 30:11 of ice time and four shots in a 3-1 loss to Columbus.
As pleased as he was to return, Suter still was irritated that he drew a suspension for elbowing Pittsburgh’s Steve Downie in the head on Jan. 13. He missed victories over Buffalo and Arizona that ended the Wild’s six-game winless streak.
“I’m very surprised,” said Suter, who was suspended for the first time in his 10-year NHL career. “I don’t hit that often. It was probably my first hit, and it cost me two games. I probably won’t be doing that any more.
“Any time you get suspended, you have to come out of it and think positively,” he said. “[The rest] was good for me. It recharged my battery, and I’m ready to go.”
Yeo noted that during Suter’s absence, the Wild got stronger performances from all three defensive pairs. If that continues, he said, the team can distribute minutes more evenly among them, ensuring that defensemen will be fresher in late-game situations against opponents’ top players.
Suter said he is happy to keep playing big minutes, but he wouldn’t mind sharing the wealth, either. “The guys over the last couple of games have really shown they can take on more minutes,” he said. “I think that will bode well for our team moving forward.
“Honestly, personally, I feel fine. But guys have shown they can take on more, and that’s a huge thing for our team, to be able to have more guys playing more.”
Wasting no time
Wild center Mikael Granlund still wore a yellow no-contact jersey in Monday’s morning skate, just as he did Sunday in his return to practice. Yet Yeo did not rule him out for Tuesday’s game at Detroit.
Yeo prefers for players to have a full-contact practice before returning to play. In Granlund’s case, Yeo wants to get him back into the lineup as soon as doctors declare he is ready. Granlund had surgery on Dec. 29 to repair a broken left wrist.
“We don’t have that luxury,” Yeo said when asked if he would delay Granlund’s return. “This is a guy that is a huge part of our lineup, a huge part of our team, and certainly we’ve missed him while he’s been out.”
Kuemper off IR
Darcy Kuemper was taken off the Wild’s injured reserve list Monday, and Yeo said it is possible the goaltender will play in Detroit. Kuemper sat out the past seven games after aggravating a lower-body injury.
Tuesday’s game will be the third in four days for the Wild, and new goalie Devan Dubnyk has played each of the past three games. All three goaltenders will make the trip to Detroit. If Kuemper does not play, it is possible he will go to Iowa for a short conditioning stint during the NHL’s All-Star break. “We’re bringing everybody there, at the very least to get the [practice] workload,” Yeo said. “If we don’t feel that Devan can play [Tuesday], then we’ll make that decision.”
Dubnyk found a place to live Sunday and will soon move out of a hotel, using this week’s All-Star break to get settled.
• The Wild will provide closed captioning on its new main video board at all home games through the rest of the season.