After winning five out of their past six games, the Minnesota Wild dropped a 3-0 home loss to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night. Fortunately, ninth place Phoenix has dropped four straight, and rests four points back of the Wild for a two-way tie for eighth in the Western Conference.
Tonight, the Wild take on the West’s last place Edmonton Oilers, but Scott’s got that covered with today’s game preview to be published shortly if it isn’t already by the time this hits the web. Here’s a tidbit of info, though–Darcy Kuemper gets his third straight start in net tonight.
The big news of the day/past 24 hours? Top line left winger Zach Parise (broken foot) has resumed practicing with the club. Wearing a yellow “no contact” sweater, it’ll be a while before he’s ready to participate in the physical aspect of practice. However, he’s certainly seeing and feeling major improvement in his foot.
“A couple times I found myself off balance, sometimes favoring the other foot,” Parise said. “But after a while when I got comfortable using it, it felt pretty good. Quick starts, it felt much better than it did a month ago, so that’s a good sign.”
Even with the improvement, there’s still no timetable for his return to the lineup and each case is different.
“It’s skate, see how you feel the next morning, do a little more if you feel OK, then see how you feel the next morning,” Parise said. “So I’ll see how it is when I wake up in the morning. Timeline, I don’t know. You’ve got to get back into game shape and playing shape. It was tough not being able to do that type of stuff for three, four weeks. It’s hard.”
Parise’s return comes one day after No. 1 goalie Josh Harding also rejoined regular practice after being sidelined for the past several games with MS medication issues. While neither is expected to see playing time in the immediate future, it’s good for the fan base moral to see the team slowly yet surely regaining its health and top players.
That said, Parise will miss his 12th straight game tonight; Harding, his eighth. In addition, like Parise, team captain and top line center Mikko Koivu and top-4 defenseman Jared Spurgeon are also out with foot injuries. After last year’s short-lived playoff run, fans and management are expecting more this year. The sooner guys like Parise, Harding, Koivu and Spurgeon return, the better the odds are of achieving that goal. If it takes longer for them to recover, it could be a very long offseason with some difficult decisions to make for team owner Craig Leipold and the Wild.