Jason Zucker, who had to be helped from the ice in Boston after the Wild lost on Thursday night, is "fine," coach Mike Yeo said today. Yeo said the slash from Bruins winger Matt Beleskey on Zucker's left leg, "just hit a nerve. There’s a nerve back there and he had some numbness afterward, but he’s fine."
Meantime, Zach Parise (sprained right MCL) will skate with the Wild in pregame warmups Saturday before a game against the Predators at the X. Parise has not been cleared to practice or for contact, but will meet with doctors tomorrow.
The flu bug ran through the Wild during a 1-2-1 road trip in which it never led, except for an overtime winner by Zucker.
A handful of players missed practice on Friday at the X, either because they were under the weather or getting a veteran's day off. Among the missing were Zucker; defensemen Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon; and forwards Mikko Koivu and Ryan Carter.
Defenseman Jonas Brodin, who missed the Boston game because of the flu, practiced.
Hey, it's Chris Miller reporting, if you haven't figured it out yet from the obvious byline. Russo (scratchy beard) is sidelined today.
After four in a row on the road, the Wild has four in a row at home. After Nashville tomorrow, it will have four days off before a Wednesday night meeting with Vancouver.
Yeo stressed that the flu bug was not an excuse for the Wild's tepid road trip. He said he wanted to put it in the past.
"You don’t want to take too much baggage into your next game," he said. "We still have a pretty decent start to the season here. Maybe there were some tough circumstances on the road that we didn’t like, but we have a chance to get back home and get back on top of things.
"I welcome having four in a row at home right now, it’s a good thing for our team. Not only do the longer road trips wear on you, the intensity of those games, but we’ve been trailing in every single one of those games, and when you’re trailing you’re pressing. You grind a lot more and it's certainly a little more fatiguing. So getting back home, and giving your guys a chance to rest -- we’ve got to dig deep and give everything we’ve got to be able to put it into that game tomorrow. After that, we got a little rest, have an opportunity to put some practice in as well, which will be real beneficial to our group."
Parise's return against the Canucks on Wednesday seems likely. Winger Justin Fontaine (also a sprained right MCL) has been hampered because of the flu, but could be close to getting back.
About Parise, Yeo said: "Zach has been skating well, he’s going to join us for our pregame skate tomorrow, but he’s not going to play. He’ll meet with the doctors tomorrow and we’ll get an update after that. It’s one thing to be cleared for a pregame skate and go out there where there’s no contact; it’s another thing to go out there for a practice where you have contact drills. ... Generally when a player is cleared for practice and cleared for contact, he’s a potential player for our lineup, so we’ll see where he is at.
"I’m not surprised, I know he’s going to push it and try to get back as soon as possible, but that’s one hurdle and the second hurdle is the doctor’s clearing him."
The Wild penalty kill is 28th in the league (.745) after giving up six power play goals in the past five games. Yeo was asked about those issues, and said, "I would like to see us take fewer penalties in the games."
"We’re not putting ourselves in great position," Yeo said. "Even last night we were doing a pretty good job, then we have a huge kill in the 5-on-3 and then we take another penalty, so taking penalties at difficult times of the game and taking penalties in the offensive zone, these are things that have kind of gone back and forth. There are some areas we can be better, we know that."
Earlier today, the team send forward Michael Keranen and defenseman Gustav Olofsson back to Iowa. Winger Brett Bulmer stays with the big club, for now.