After returning home from back-to-back shutout victories on the road, the Wild held an optional practice Friday at Xcel. Jared Spurgeon--who has missed four games with an upper-body injury--was among six defensemen to participate and declared himself completely ready to return to play. That's particularly welcome news for a team that lost Marco Scandella to a lower-body injury in Thursday's 4-0 win at Buffalo.
Coach Bruce Boudreau said Scandella is day-to-day and that he has to "just see how it goes.'' Spurgeon, on the other hand, said he felt good after getting his second full-practice test since the injury, With the help of strength and conditioning coach Sean Skahan, he's kept his fitness and feels ready to get back in.
"Sean's been doing a great job keeping me in shape,'' Spurgeon said. "I was able to skate a couple days before (the two practices) without the team. That's always huge, when you're able to be on the ice and not lose your skating legs.''
Erik Haula (foot injury), who also has missed four games, did not practice. Boudreau said he hopes Haula will be ready to return by early next week.
Also on Friday, the Wild put winger Teemu Pulkkinen on waivers. Boudreau wouldn't speculate whether Pulkkinen would clear, saying he would wait to see what happens and make any necessary decisions afterward. "We just need flexibility,'' Boudreau said of the decision to waive Pulkkinen. "We've got a couple guys hurt, and we need that flexibility right now.''
Pulkkinen has one goal this season in eight games while averaging 9:09 of ice time per game.
Friday's practice was made optional to give some players a day of rest after the long road trip. Several veterans did participate, including Ryan Suter, whose nine points have him tied with Shea Weber and Brent Burns atop the NHL's defensemen scoring standings. Nate Prosser played an unusual role, filling in at left wing to allow the Wild to have three forward lines at the workout. "I don't think he's going to be playing that too often,'' Boudreau said with a laugh.