Captain Mikko Koivu joined the Wild on the ice Thursday for its morning skate and although he won’t return to the lineup against the Panthers at Xcel Energy Center, he’s getting closer to getting back in game mode.
“He looks like he’s skating pretty well,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “So I would assume it’s not too long before he gets back in the lineup.”
Boudreau said he could see Koivu, who's been out with a lower-body injury since taking a knee-on-knee hit last Friday, participating in practice Friday but also mentioned Koivu is the type of player who doesn’t need a tune-up like that before suiting up.
“In a perfect world, you’d like the player to get a couple practices in to get acclimated with everything and the speed of the game again,” Boudreau said. “But we’ve had a lot of times where we’ve had two days off and there’s been games I gave Mikko the day off and then he didn’t skate the next day and still played. He’s one of those guys that can do that.”
It still looks like the Wild will make a lineup change, swapping veteran Matt Hendricks in for winger J.T. Brown.
Goalie Devan Dubnyk is poised to make his 251st start, moving him into sole possession of second place in Wild history, as the Wild attempts to capitalize on the momentum it should have generated from a 7-1 rout of the Montreal Canadiens Tuesday.
“If we don’t build on it, then we’re not going to climb and I don’t think we’re in a playoff position right now,” Boudreau said. “So we gotta continue to have success and put a little run together. What better opportunity than at this time when you have four games in a row at home.”
Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Mikael Granlund
Zach Parise-Charlie Coyle-Nino Niederreiter
Jordan Greenway-Joel Eriksson Ek-Luke Kunin
Marcus Foligno-Eric Fehr-Matt Hendricks
Ryan Suter-Matt Dumba
Jonas Brodin-Jared Spurgeon
Nick Seeler-Greg Pateryn
.945: Career save percentage for Dubnyk vs. the Panthers.
400: Games for winger Zach Parise with the Wild.
299: Career points for winger Mikael Granlund.
6: Power-play goals for defenseman Matt Dumba, which leads all NHL blue liners.
5: Game-winning goals from Wild defensemen.
About the Panthers:
Florida has struggled of late, dropping four of its past five. Overall, the team is near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings at 11-12-6. Center Aleksander Barkov has been a catalyst for the Panthers. He’s been on the ice for 52 of their 95 goals and has drawn a league-high 22 penalties. Winger Jonathan Huberdeau leads the Panthers with 36 points, while winger Mike Hoffman’s 15 goals pace the pack.