According to Michael Russo of the Star Tribune, Minnesota Wild fourth line forward Mike Rupp left this morning’s skate early due to the lower body injury he received in Saturday afternoon’s matchup with the Colorado Avalanche. He did not return to practice. Instead, rookie speedster Jason Zucker will find himself back in the lineup after missing a game with an upper body injury and being scratched the next in favor of a resurging Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
While the loss of Rupp is a serious blow to Minnesota’s rough and tumble, energizing fourth line, Zucker is no slouch either—the 2010 second round pick has four goals and an assist for five points and a plus-4 rating in 11 games. The rookie also leads all Minnesota skaters with a shooting percentage of 20%. His explosive speed and tenacity could also benefit the Wild’s transition from fourth to first line with extended shifts in the offensive zone during line changes.
Tom Gilbert is also a game time decision. If he’s out, Elk River native Nate Prosser will likely get the nod. Prosser has been great in the limited time he has seen this season, notching a plus-2 rating while being on the ice for just one goal against. Brett Clark will once again have to wait to make his debut in a Wild sweater.