Two weeks after finding out he could miss up to a month with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee, defenseman Christian Folin has been cleared to return to the Wild lineup.
Folin took warmups before Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers, but coach Bruce Boudreau opted not play Folin, who rejoined the Wild during Friday’s morning skate but has yet to take part in a full practice since getting hurt Nov. 25 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I feel ready in my head,” Folin said. “I’ve been watching a lot of games. My head is definitely in it. I did some good skating with [skating and skills instructor] Andy Ness and [injured center] Zac [Dalpe], so my legs are there, too. I feel ready to play.”
Folin, a plus-8 in 19 games, was having a strong start to his season after initially being scratched opening night in St. Louis. He was a solid defense partner to mostly Jonas Brodin.
“I was scared right away. I thought it was something really serious,” Folin said of the injury sustained when he was trying to dodge a check from Sidney Crosby. “I limped out into the tunnel. I didn’t feel good right away. It kind of came around. I did some work. It was a long process, but I feel really good and feel comfortable on the ice.”
The loss was significant on the recently completed 2-1-2 Wild road trip.
“We don’t have a big defense, and when he’s gone, it makes it smaller,” Boudreau said. “And he was playing really well with Brodin. It’s always a big loss, but I think [Nate Prosser] has stepped in and done a really good job.”
Dalpe, who has missed 17 games and underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus, has been cleared to practice, but Boudreau doesn’t have a timetable for his return. He could also eventually start in the minors; the Wild has clarified with the NHL that he would not require waivers to get to Iowa.
Changing for Parise
In the never-ending flip of left wingers, Boudreau switched Nino Niederreiter and Zach Parise to start Friday’s game. Niederreiter was back with Erik Haula and Jason Pominville, and Parise was with Eric Staal and Charlie Coyle.
Parise scored two goals on nine shots and had an assist with those two linemates during the Wild’s 2-0 homestand before the road trip. But he went without a point during the five away games.
With last line change, Boudreau was hoping to jump-start Parise, who entered Friday’s game with four goals and five assists in 18 games.
“It’s going to happen, he’s too good a player not to get going,” Boudreau said Friday morning. “[Anaheim’s] Corey Perry went 19 games without scoring before last game. [Ryan] Getzlaf has two goals this year. But those are great players and they’re going to eventually score their goals.
“It’s only a matter of time before [Parise] gets in a rhythm and feels it, and when he feels it, they’re going to start going in for him.”
• Boudreau was asked about Mikko Koivu’s 21-for-23 (91.3 percent) faceoff win outing in last Sunday’s meeting against Edmonton, the second-best single effort in the NHL this season (Anaheim’s Antoine Vermette won 20-for-21, or 95.2 percent, vs. L.A.).
“He had a special day,” Boudreau said. “As a former centerman, there’s some times you just feel you can’t lose anything and your timing is right on.”
• Prosser on assistant coach Scott Stevens using him in the final minute in Toronto: “It’s nice to have that little confidence boost that they know I can go out there and just finish it off.”