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Posted On Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 3:05 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - Avalanche-Wild series blog

Granlund, Kuemper return to practice for Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild could be on the verge of getting two key players back from injury in time for their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche. Game 1 is Thursday at Pepsi Center in Denver (9:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN).

Center Mikael Granlund and goaltender Darcy Kuemper participated in a full practice Tuesday for the first time in two weeks. Each was injured on March 31, Kuemper during the Wild's morning skate, and Granlund in the second period against the Los Angeles Kings that night.

Granlund, who sustained an upper-body injury when he ran into Kings forward Jarrett Stoll, began skating on his own late last week. For Kuemper, who sustained an upper-body injury, the practice Tuesday was his second time on the ice.

"I feel good," Granlund said. "Let's just say it was a good day again and, yeah, we'll see. I felt really good."

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Posted On Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 2:52 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Wild to skate seven defensemen against Predators

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- With their position in the Stanley Cup Playoffs secure, the Minnesota Wild will play seven defensemen Sunday in their final regular season game against the Nashville Predators.

Forward Kyle Brodziak is out with a minor lower-body injury. Coach Mike Yeo said Brodziak could have played through the ailment, but the extra days off should put Brodziak at close to full strength.

"He certainly could have played but we just want to give him every opportunity to be 100 percent," Yeo said.

With Brodziak out, the Wild will slide wing Nino Niederreiter to center and suit up defenseman Clayton Stoner, who has missed the past 10 games with a knee injury. Otherwise, the Wild are not expected to rest any key players. Minnesota is 6-0-1 in its past seven games and Yeo wants the Wild to keep their current edge.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.10.2014 / 2:46 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues' Backes sidelined; Folin to debut for Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The St. Louis Blues will play the Minnesota Wild on Thursday without captain David Backes, who sustained a foot injury after being hit by a teammate's shot Tuesday against the Washington Capitals. Backes was seen with a walking boot on his left foot.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Backes could be out for the rest of the regular season but expects him back in time for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It's an opportunity for guys to step forward," Hitchcock said.

Wild defenseman Christian Folin will make his NHL debut. Folin, who two weeks ago was playing at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, was generally considered the top college free agent available following the season. He had interest from nearly every team in the NHL but chose the Wild over the Philadelphia Flyers, signing a two-year entry-level contract with Minnesota on March 31.

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 1:55 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Wild can wrap up playoff berth against Bruins

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild are on the verge of clinching a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight year and could wrap up the top wild-card spot in the Western Conference as early as Tuesday against the Boston Bruins.

One win or post-regulation loss in any of their final three games would get the job done. So would one regulation or post-regulation loss by the Phoenix Coyotes. Even a post-regulation win by the Coyotes would get it done.

Minnesota's magic number to clinch a berth is one point, so the number of clinching scenarios are plentiful. But coach Mike Yeo said he'd prefer to keep it as simple as possible: Win tonight against the NHL's best team and the Wild not only clinch a playoff spot, they lock in the top wild-card position.

"Hopefully the experience of last year has helped us, and I think it has," Yeo said. "We just need to concentrate on the game. That's just another one of those end results."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.05.2014 / 2:46 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Penguins forward Jokinen sidelined against Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jussi Jokinen has been ruled out Saturday against the Minnesota Wild after sustaining an upper-body injury Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Penguins recalled former Wild forward Andrew Ebbett from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on Friday and he will play against his former team. Ebbett has 12 goals and 25 assists with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, where he is riding an 11-game point streak dating to March 7.

Ebbett has played in seven games with Pittsburgh this season and has one assist. He scored eight goals and 14 points in his only season with the Wild in 2009-10.

Bylsma said he didn't believe Jokinen's injury was serious and he is considered day-to-day. With the Metropolitan Division clinched and their positioning for the Stanley Cup Playoffs virtually locked, Bylsma said getting Jokinen healthy for the playoffs is the primary concern.

"It's not long-term at this point," Bylsma said.

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.26.2014 / 1:43 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Burrows will play against Wild for desperate Canucks

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- At the conclusion of practice Tuesday, Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella said Henrik Sedin and Alexandre Burrows would not travel for a quick two-games-in-two-nights road trip to Minnesota and Colorado.

What a difference 24 hours makes.

Though nothing changed with Sedin, Burrows not only was on the flight to the Twin Cities, but he will be in the lineup Wednesday when the Canucks play the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

"He skated this morning," Tortorella said. "He is in."

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Posted On Saturday, 03.15.2014 / 2:16 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Tyutin, Anisimov expected back for Blue Jackets

ST. PAUL, Minn.Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin is expected back in the lineup Saturday against the Minnesota Wild.

Tyutin has missed the past nine games after sustaining an ankle injury while playing for Russia in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

"There's always a lot of excitement when you miss a lot of time," Tyutin said. "You get back with the team, in that team atmosphere. It's nice."

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Posted On Thursday, 03.13.2014 / 2:00 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Wild continue theme of rotating defensemen

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Entering the stretch run of the regular season, Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo said Thursday he's not ready to settle in on a group of six defensemen.

Yeo has a solid top four, with Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon playing or even exceeding 30 minutes a night, and a second pairing of Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella. But when it comes to his bottom pairing, Yeo isn't ready to commit.

Instead, the Wild will continue to play musical chairs, which is what Yeo has done since returning from the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Against the New York Rangers on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center, it's Nate Prosser's turn to sit in the press box. Clayton Stoner, who sat Tuesday, will be paired with Keith Ballard, who was a healthy scratch Sunday.

"We said we were going to go through this rotation a couple of times here and just kind of re-evaluate it after that," Yeo said.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.11.2014 / 2:07 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Wild's Cooke hits milestone; Oilers' Klefbom to debut

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cooke will play in his 1,000th NHL game Tuesday when the Wild host the Edmonton Oilers (8 p.m. ET, TSN).

Cooke will become the 286th player in NHL history to reach the 1,000 games and the fourth to do it as a member of the Wild. Prior to the game, Cooke will receive a silver stick from the Wild and a crystal from NHL executive Jim Gregory.

"I never would have guessed it way back when I started this," Cooke, 35, said. "It's been a roller coaster at times, but I'm thankful for where I'm at. It's a big accomplishment for me."

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Posted On Sunday, 03.09.2014 / 3:55 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Bryzgalov expected to make Wild debut

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Wild goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov is expected to debut with his new team Sunday against the St. Louis Blues at Xcel Energy Center.

Bryzgalov, acquired from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick, was 5-8-5 with a 3.01 goals-against average and .908 save percentage in 20 appearances with the Oilers this season. The Wild, playing the second-half of back-to-back games, lost 4-3 to the Dallas Stars on Saturday. Rookie goaltender Darcy Kuemper made his 16th consecutive start in goal and the Wild will play 19 games in 36 days to finish the season.

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Quote of the Day

I don't know how he does it. I don't know how he gets his body parallel with the player and pulls it through his legs like that. I know he's tried it a couple times in practice and it's never worked, so how he does it in a game, it's incredible.

— Capitals defenseman Mike Green on teammate Alex Ovechkin's highlight-reel goal against the Devils on Saturday