Wild left winger Matt Cooke, who played two third-period shifts totaling 33 seconds Sunday in Vancouver, didn’t play Tuesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks and could be out a “longer period of time,” coach Mike Yeo said.
In fact, Cooke is expected to miss the remainder of the regular season because of a sports hernia that will require surgery, sources say.
Yeo would only say Cooke has a “lower-body injury” and he’ll update Cooke’s status once he gets more information. It’s believed Cooke will see an abdominal specialist in St. Louis.
Cooke missed 22 games from Oct. 30-Dec. 17 because of a hip injury. He was injured the second game of the season at Colorado and played despite the injury for the next six games. As it turns out, Cooke had three torn muscles, including the psoas major, which attaches to the femur, and two other supporting hip flexor muscles.
“This is something different than what has been bothering him,” Yeo said. “It hasn’t gone away, and he’s been battling through it. Quite often with these things, this might be something as a result of compensating for the other injury, too. I’m not sure. But he’s been trying to battle through it.”
Cooke, 36, who has another year left on his contract at $2.5 million, led the Wild in hits last season and had 10 goals and 28 points in 82 games. This season, he has four goals and four assists in 27 games. He hasn’t been as physical, and his skating has looked labored.
Schroeder gets call
Cooke’s absence leaves a checking-line and penalty-killing hole, so it’ll be interesting to see if General Manager Chuck Fletcher looks to add a depth forward before the March 2 trade deadline or if he’ll continue to fill the void via the minors.
In the short-term, the Wild placed Justin Fontaine (groin) on injured reserve and recalled Jordan Schroeder from Iowa of the AHL to play the Blackhawks. In the Jan. 8 home game against Chicago, Schroeder played on an all-Gophers line with Erik Haula and Thomas Vanek and had seven shots. Tuesday, he skated on a line with Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter, and Yeo was hopeful the pure speed of Schroeder would give that line “a different dynamic.”
“He’s done a good job for us the couple games that he’s played,” Yeo said. “I’m counting on him to come in right now and provide some minutes for us, provide some energy. I want to see his speed be a factor. I think he’s done a good job of finding open ice and getting some pucks through to the net.”
Despite Cooke being out long-term, Schroeder knows that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be up long-term.
“You know how it works. Just come up one day at a time, one game at a time, one shift at a time,” he said, laughing.
Fontaine isn’t expected to be out long and could come off injured reserve by Saturday’s game against Colorado. But with Cooke sidelined, Ryan Carter took his spot on a line with Haula and Kyle Brodziak.
• Besides scoring his first winning goal Sunday in Vancouver, Vanek was coming off his most physical game as well. Vanek, who had no recorded hits his first 11 games with the Wild, had four hits, including crushing Chris Higgins and getting the best of Alex Edler after the two had been clashing all shift.
“To complete your game, sometimes you have to be physical, especially in the D zone,” Vanek said. “Sometimes it can really build momentum.”
• With rookie Matt Dumba still up and Nate Prosser, a big part of the penalty kill and coming off three good games in a row, defenseman Christian Folin was scratched for a third consecutive game.