Minnesota Wild News: Injuries Healing At The Perfect Time


With the Minnesota Wild just a chip and a putt (obligatory Masters reference) away from the playoffs, several key injured players are getting healthy after extended time watching from the press box. As they begin trickling back, the Wild will continue to add to their depth, something that has been displayed on a nightly basis throughout the second half.

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Tuesday’s 2-1 win against the surging Chicago Blackhawks marked the return of Jason Zucker from a busted collarbone. He looked very sharp in his first action in over two months, buzzing around like he was midseason and scoring a goal off a beautiful pass from Chris Stewart.

If that wasn’t enough, we were also teased about a potential Matt Cooke sighting before the regular season ends.

The sudden recovery of a number of players couldn’t have come at a better time as the Minnesota Wild have been near the top of the league in man games lost due to injury all season.

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So what does this sudden return of bodies mean for the Minnesota Wild?

Well, for one and most obviously, it gives them their complete arsenal of forwards and defensemen for the playoffs. That’s a huge advantage for Mike Yeo to have his pick of the litter on any given night, but it also means that you’ll probably see a handful of line combinations early on in the playoffs, especially on the third and fourth lines.

What it also means is that it will be even more difficult for certain players to crack the lineup on any given night. Despite possessing dynamic speed and playing significant roles on the penalty kill, guys like Erik Haula and Jordan Schroeder may not see the ice as often as they’d like in the playoffs because of the suddenly healthy lineup.

I’m almost certain we’ve seen the last of the Sean Bergenheim experiment in a Wild jersey. I don’t doubt that his arrival to the team was an extremely difficult transition, but he just can’t figure out the Minnesota Wild’s system.

He’s consistently a hair late on the forecheck and has been unable to mesh with any of the team’s bottom six forwards since his arrival from Florida. Let’s also not forget he has just one goal in 15 games since arriving here.

Even after he returns from his day-to-day illness, it’s doubtful that he suits up in the playoffs and even less likely he gets offered a contract extension from the Wild.

Finally, it also means that the Wild have a packed blue line for the first time in a long time. Since Nate Prosser returned from his lower-body injury, I’d bet that he and Jordan Leopold will share the 6th defenseman spot going into the playoffs while Christian Folin will be waiting for a slip up or injury for a chance to make his playoff debut.

Even though there is a complete traffic jam of both forwards and the defensemen, it’s a fantastic problem to have late in the season. The most important thing for Mike Yeo will be to find a combination of players that can mimic the way the Wild played for all of February and March. If they can manage to find a four complete lines in these last few games before the playoffs, expect them to roll with those guys early on.

On the other hand, if they can’t find much chemistry quickly, there will be plenty of line shuffling going on early in the first round.