There was much relief around Xcel Energy Center today when the team got word that Zach Parise didn't suffer any serious harm to his eye--or anything else--after a frightening incident Tuesday. In the first period of the Wild's overtime loss to Washington, Parise caught a high stick from the Capitals' Tom Wilson in the eye. As he was falling, his head collided hard with Jay Beagle's leg.

Parise was helped off the ice and had a swollen eye. Wednesday, Boudreau reported that Parise was "black and blue ... and a little sore on his upper body,'' but otherwise fine. Parise did not practice Wednesday and isn't likely to play Thursday against Ottawa at Xcel, but Boudreau expects him back soon.

"He can see, and he's fine as far as that goes,'' the coach said. "I don't think he's going to be out for a long period of time. I don't think he's going to play (against Ottawa), but at the same time, it wouldn't surprise me if after the weekend, he's ready to go.''

Boudreau did lots of instruction during a 40-minute practice Wednesday. The Wild worked on special teams and its forecheck, seeking to regain its form after going 2-9-2 in its past 13 games and 3-10-2 in March.

The team also welcomed back forward Joel Eriksson Ek. During Wednesday's practice, he centered the fourth line, with Nino Niederreiter on the left side and Jordan Schroeder swapping turns with Ryan White on the right. Eriksson Ek was recalled Tuesday; his season with Farjestad BK of the Swedish Elite League ended with Friday's playoff loss to HV71.

Boudreau said he will need time to decide whether Eriksson Ek fits better at center or left wing with the Wild. He isn't sure whether Eriksson Ek will play against Ottawa.

"He looks bigger and stronger,'' Boudreau said. "He's 205 pounds now; he wasn't 205 pounds when he first got here. He's starting to grow into his body. He's been a great player in Europe, and he was good for us here earlier on.''

Eriksson Ek said he needs to be stronger on the puck than he was in his first nine-game turn with the Wild, noting "there are some big players here.'' He said he had a significant role with Farjestad and is excited to be back.

"I've been playing a lot, and I feel good,'' he said. "This is a big opportunity for me. I just have to play my game; I'll just do my best and see what happens.''

The rather interesting lines at practice today:




Niederreiter-Eriksson Ek-Schroeder/White