RALEIGH, N.C. – With a four-day break on the horizon, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau hopes two ailing forwards — Mikael Granlund and Zach Parise — could be back in the lineup by the time the Wild’s schedule resumes Thursday at Chicago.
Boudreau held Granlund out of Saturday’s 5-4 shootout loss at Carolina because of a groin injury. Granlund also sat out Friday’s practice. Parise, recovering from a back injury, missed the season-opening road trip and has been skating by himself.
Playing without last year’s leading scorer put “a dent” in the Wild’s lineup, Boudreau said, but he would rather allow Granlund to heal fully. The Wild is taking the same strategy with Parise.
“We’ve got a week off after this, so there’s no sense just chasing the injury all year long,” Boudreau said of Granlund. “Get rid of it early in the year, so he’s healthy to go. You’ve just got to persevere, and somebody’s got to step up.”
Parise has skated “really well” in recent days, Boudreau said, and is expected to practice Monday. The forward spent most of training camp skating before or after practice and did not take any contact.
If everything goes well, Boudreau anticipates Parise will be ready to play by next weekend. After Thursday’s game at Chicago, the Wild plays Columbus next Saturday in its home opener.
The departure of forward Eric Staal in 2016 left Carolina without a captain last season. That situation finally changed last week, when Staal’s younger brother, Jordan, and defenseman Justin Faulk were named co-captains.
Faulk, a South St. Paul native who played at Minnesota Duluth, was a second-round draft pick of the Hurricanes and has played his entire 402-game NHL career with the franchise. Jordan Staal is beginning his sixth season in Carolina. It’s unusual to have co-captains in the NHL, but both players and Carolina coach Bill Peters said a wealth of team leaders made it a sensible choice.
“It’s a huge honor for us,” said Faulk, who scored a career-high 17 goals last season. “We’ve been saying for all of last year, and even the year before, that we have multiple leaders in the room. That’s the beauty of it, with all the guys in the room that can step up and lead.”
Faulk will wear the “C” for road games to begin the season, and Staal will wear it for home games. They will reverse that pattern at midseason, though it could vary with circumstances — for example, when the Hurricanes play the Wild in Faulk’s home state in March.
Wild center Eric Staal, Jordan’s older brother, took particular pride in seeing the “C” stay in the family.
“He’s a natural leader, and I’m not surprised he was given that honor,” Eric said. “He’ll push his teammates to be better and lead by example.”
Saturday’s game was the season opener for the Hurricanes, who began their NHL life as the Hartford Whalers and are celebrating their 20th season in Raleigh. That made it a particularly nostalgic visit for Eric Staal and Wild center Matt Cullen, who were teammates in Carolina when the franchise won the Stanley Cup in 2006.
Cullen played four seasons in Carolina and is on his second tour with the Wild, which signed him as a free agent last summer. Staal was picked second overall by the Hurricanes in the 2003 NHL draft and played there for 11 seasons until 2016, when he was traded to the New York Rangers and later signed with the Wild.
“It’s fun to come back and relive some of the memories, especially with a good friend and an old teammate,” Cullen said. “We both just love coming back here. We feel a lot of pride in what we did.”