ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild will get back four players for their game Friday against the Montreal Canadiens at Xcel Energy Center.
Perhaps the most notable is forward Charlie Coyle, who sustained a knee injury Oct. 5 and has missed 11 games. Coyle was the Wild's second-line center when he went down but returns Friday as the team's top centerman, splitting up Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise for the first time since Parise signed with the Wild two summers ago.
"It's really nice just to be back with the guys again, able to go on road trips and not being left behind here and working out by myself," Coyle said. "I don't really care what line I'm on, I'm just happy to be back on the ice helping our team win."
With Coyle inserted next to Parise, Koivu will move to the third line, although Wild coach Mike Yeo certainly doesn't view that group as a traditional third line. One of the reasons the Wild chose to split up its top line is to create more balance at both ends of the rink. Each of the Wild's top three lines now has a center-wing combination capable of scoring goals and playing responsibly defensively.
"We feel we have anybody we can put out against anybody," Yeo said.
Minnesota will get a pair of defensemen back, Jonas Brodin (broken cheekbone) and Keith Ballard (upper body). Each player was hit in the face with a puck, with Ballard missing seven games and Brodin missing three. Brodin will play with a shield on his helmet to protect his cheekbone.
"I just have to go out there and play," Brodin said. "It's always frustrating when you can't play but I worked hard and I'm excited to play."
The Wild will get a goaltender back; Josh Harding gets the nod in goal after missing one game entirely and backing up Niklas Backstrom in another. Harding sustained a lower-body injury during the Oct. 26 game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Harding leads the NHL in goals-against average (1.00) and save percentage (.953).
The Canadiens also are getting good news on the injury front; fourth-line forward George Parros returns from a concussion sustained in the season-opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Another forward, Max Pacioretty, will not play Friday but could be back as soon as Saturday when the Canadiens play at the Colorado Avalanche.
"He practiced really well [Thursday]," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said of Pacioretty. "We'll see how he's going to react after [Friday]. If he's good to go he'll probably go [Saturday]. We have to consider it’s back-to-back games too. It's probably smarter to put him in [Saturday]."
Carey Price will start in goal for Montreal.
Here are the projected lineups for Montreal and Minnesota:
Michael Bournival - Tomas Plekanec - Brian Gionta
Alex Galchenyuk - Lars Eller - Brendan Gallagher
Rene Bourque - David Desharnais - Louis Leblanc
George Parros - Ryan White - Mike Blunden
Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban
Josh Gorges - Raphael Diaz
Douglas Murray - Francis Bouillon
Scratched: Greg Pateryn
Injured: Max Pacioretty (hamstring), Daniel Briere (concussion), Brandon Prust (shoulder), Travis Moen (face), Alexei Emelin (knee), Davis Drewiske (shoulder)
Zach Parise - Charlie Coyle - Justin Fontaine
Matt Cooke - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville
Nino Niederreiter - Mikko Koivu - Kyle Brodziak
Dany Heatley - Zenon Konopka - Torrey Mitchell
Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin
Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon
Clayton Stoner - Keith Ballard
Scratched: Mathew Dumba, Nate Prosser
Injured: Mike Rupp (knee)