Jared Spurgeon is lucky.
In the first period of the Wild’s 6-3 victory over Detroit on Sunday, Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist lost his cool after being cross-checked by the Wild defenseman. Nyquist turned, turned the tip of his blade skyward and high-sticked Spurgeon in the face.
“Two inches closer, and the guy could have speared his eye out,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety acted quickly. Nyquist has been offered an in-person hearing at NHL headquarters. That will allow a suspension of longer than five games.
The incident was reminiscent of last April when Chicago’s Duncan Keith was suspended five regular-season games and a playoff game for swinging his blade wildly at Charlie Coyle’s face from flat on his back.
But this one came in a controlled hockey play with Nyquist staring directly at Spurgeon. Nyquist said it was “completely accidental.”
“My stick gets caught, I’m trying to get body position on him,” Nyquist said. “It looks bad, but I’m happy he’s OK.”
Detroit coach Jeff Blashill also jumped to his player’s defense, saying, “I’ve known Nykey for six-plus years and there’s no chance there was any intent.”
Spurgeon escaped with only a fat lip and stitches to his lower left cheek.
“I’m sure something will happen and the league will do something,” Spurgeon said. “I’m just happy it didn’t go in my eye or something like that.”
The Wild was amazed Nyquist only received a double-minor rather than a five-minute major and game misconduct. Boudreau said referee Brad Watson told him it wasn’t that bad, adding: “I said, ‘Well, watch the replay. You’ll see it deserved more than a double-minor.’ ”
Brodin getting close
Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin, who broke a finger Jan. 17 and has missed 12 games, is back practicing and is maybe a week from returning. Brodin said he is still having difficulty shooting and doing “one-hand stuff.”
“You worry sometimes that when he’s out you’re putting too much pressure and ice time on [Ryan Suter and Spurgeon],” Boudreau said. “We can tell we miss him and definitely in situations where you’re sitting there and you don’t want to play Suter 31 minutes a night. You go, ‘Geez, here’s minutes that Brods could eat right up.’ He’s missed.”
In his third game since being recalled, left-shot defenseman Gustav Olofsson assisted on two goals Sunday, the first two points of his career. He even got power-play time, which he called an honor.
“It was a good start to kind of ease the nerves,” Olofsson said. “I think those were some of the easiest points I’ve ever gotten playing hockey.”
Defenseman Matt Dumba, who crashed awkwardly into the boards Friday against Tampa Bay on a check from Ondrej Palat, missed Sunday’s game because of a lower-body injury. Boudreau said Dumba is day-to-day.
The Wild might have some insurance policies if it runs into injuries down the stretch.
Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher anticipates that center Zac Dalpe (knee) and defenseman Victor Bartley (torn triceps) could return to Iowa’s lineup at some point. The Wild also could also recall center Joel Eriksson Ek after Farjestad’s season ends in Sweden, but if Sweden wants the world junior captain for the world championships, the Wild would prefer him to play in that.
“Hopefully we’re still going late in the spring, and we could bring him back then,” Fletcher said.
Vanek sits out
Detroit’s Thomas Vanek, who played the past two seasons with the Wild, missed his homecoming to Xcel Energy Center (ankle injury).