The Wild will be without Devan Dubnyk and will start Darcy Kuemper in the net Friday night in Arizona.
Dubnyk briefly returned to the ice for Thursday morning’s practice after missing Monday’s game in Colorado and Tuesday’s practice because of a mild groin strain. The Wild took Wednesday off, but the extra rest wasn’t enough for Dubnyk to make a full recovery.
“We’re going to leave him behind. He won’t come with us [to Arizona or San Jose],” Wild coach Mike Yeo said after Thursday’s workout. “He was on the ice this morning and wasn’t quite feeling 100 percent, so there’s really no point in rushing things here and taking a risk on injuring things worse. He’s getting closer and we’ll just leave him behind.
“It’s not a setback. He even said he felt pretty good, but just doesn’t have full confidence in pushing side-to-side, right now. Without full confidence and without being sure that we might hurt it worse, it doesn’t make any sense.”
Yeo said the plan is to play Kuemper on Friday against the Coyotes, but no plans have been made for Saturday’s stop in San Jose. Niklas Backstrom will be the backup.
Kuemper shut out Arizona in his only career start against the Coyotes last season. Dubnyk is 2-0 against his former team since being traded last season.
The injury will allow Dubnyk to spend extra time with his new son, Parker, who was born Wednesday.
“There’s never a convenient time for an injury,” Dubnyk said. “But yeah, I guess. It’s important to be around. It was tough leaving the hospital each time and saying bye, so I’m happy to go spend some time with them.
“[The groin] felt good today. There’s just kind of stuff around the net that you feel a little bit tentative about, but there are certainly no setbacks. It’s more just you can’t be going into games performing wise if there’s that little bit of tentativeness. So everything is still on schedule and it feels good, so we’ll stay off it for the weekend and be ready for next week.”
Kuemper has 27 saves and given up just two goals in 92-plus minutes since taking over for the injured Dubnyk last Saturday against Colorado. He’ll make his fifth start of the season on Friday and has been practicing this week with the mindset he would be in the net this weekend.
“It’s a good opportunity. … You get two good practices this week with the mindset that you’re starting. It gives you a few more days to approach it and get ready to go,” Kuemper said.
“You’re definitely more comfortable in there the more you play. You’ve just got to use that to your advantage. You can’t ease up because you’re more comfortable. You just got to keep that focus and take it one shot at time.”