ST. PAUL, Minn. — Walking on crutches after undergoing surgery on Monday to repair his fractured ankle, Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu addressed the media for the first time since the injury.
Koivu was placed on injured reserve following the procedure, which Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said should expedite Koivu's recovery time. It is expected he will miss about four weeks.
Koivu was struck in the foot during the second period of the Wild's 5-3 win against the Washington Capitals seven days ago. He left the bench for a portion of the game but returned and actually assisted on two Ryan Suter goals a few minutes later. Koivu played a couple more shifts in the third period, but Wild coach Mike Yeo sent him back to the dressing room after seeing his captain in visible pain on the bench.
"I think every hockey player has [been hit by] a puck in the foot," Koivu said. "Obviously, the pain is not fun, but usually it goes away if you keep playing and keep the skate on. When I kind of realized it was worse than I thought, the pain got worse and worse. That's when I realized it was probably more than a bruise."
Koivu leads the Wild with 27 assists and 35 points this season and is also a valued member of the team's power play and penalty kill units. He ranks fourth among NHL forwards in ice time, averaging 21:34 a night, and his 55.7 winning percentage in the faceoff circle is one of the best in the League.
With the 2014 Sochi Olympics less than a month away, there is some concern Koivu may be unable to play. Selected by Finland last week to play in his third Olympic Games, Koivu said he hopes to get a couple of games under his belt with the Wild before departing for Russia.
"I'm not going to sit here and say that I haven't thought about it," Koivu said. "That's the reality. But I think more than anything, just the frustration, when you're in the middle of your season, you feel good, we were just starting to get on a roll again."
Minnesota has had an epidemic of foot injuries of late. Forward Zach Parise and defenseman Jared Spurgeon are both on injured reserve after blocking shots with their feet. Yeo said Parise could begin skating next week while the timeline on Spurgeon is still unclear.
Despite being short-handed two top-six forwards and a top-four defenseman, the Wild return home Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche after winning a pair of games on the road against the Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes.
Yeo said nothing will change lineup-wise for the Wild, including in goal, where Niklas Backstrom will get the nod against Colorado. He stopped 39 shots Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Coyotes.
Coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Islanders Friday in Denver, the Avalanche arrived late in the Twin Cities and did not skate Saturday. Tyson Barrie is out with a shoulder injury and Nick Holden will miss the game to be with his wife, who is due to give birth, so defensemen Ryan Wilson and Karl Stollery were recalled from the American Hockey League. Ryan O'Reilly will also return from a shoulder injury, according to Adrian Dater of the Denver Post.
Here are the projected lineups for the Avalanche and Wild:
Nathan MacKinnon - Matt Duchene - Jamie McGinn
Gabriel Landeskog - Paul Stastny - Ryan O'Reilly
Cody McLeod - John Mitchell - Maxime Talbot
Marc-Andre Cliche - Brad Malone - Patrick Bordeleau
Erik Johnson - Jan Hejda
Andre Benoit - Cory Sarich
Ryan Wilson - Karl Stollery
Scratched: David Van Der Gulik
Injured: Nate Guenin (ankle), Ryan O'Reilly (shoulder), PA Parenteau (knee), Alex Tanguay (knee, hip), Tyson Barrie (shoulder), Nick Holden (personal)
Nino Niederreiter - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville
Jason Zucker - Charlie Coyle - Dany Heatley
Matt Cooke - Kyle Brodziak - Justin Fontaine
Stephane Veilleux - Erik Haula - Torrey Mitchell
Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin
Clayton Stoner - Nate Prosser
Marco Scandella - Jonathon Blum
Scratched: Mike Rupp, Keith Ballard
Injured: Zach Parise (foot), Mikko Koivu (ankle), Josh Harding (illness), Jared Spurgeon (foot)