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Brodin To Return, And Jones To Debut For Wild

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

TORONTO -- The Minnesota Wild will get defenseman Jonas Brodin back on Tuesday, and will add forward David Jones to its lineup when it plays the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Brodin has missed the past 13 games after he sustained a broken foot on Feb. 4, but after practicing with the Wild on Wednesday, and taking two morning skates, declared himself good to go.

"I did a lot of rehab, and workouts, and I've been on the ice a couple of times here, so I feel I'm in good shape, and I'm ready to get back," Brodin said.

Jones was acquired prior to the NHL trade deadline on Monday. He did not play on Tuesday when the Wild defeated the Colorado Avalanche 6-3, but will skate on a line Thursday with forwards Thomas Vanek and Mikael Granlund.

"I get to play with two real good players, so I'm looking forward to it," Jones said. "I'm not changing anything I do, but hopefully I can complement those guys."

Interim Head Coach John Torchetti said he thinks Jones can fill a similar niche on that line as Chris Porter, who has played with Granlund and Vanek the past four games, opening up space and pressuring in the defensive zone.

"That's pretty much my game, and I'm not going to change too much," Jones said. "The reason they brought me in is to play the way I do, and that's getting in there as the F1, and finishing checks, and creating loose pucks."

Where Brodin especially could be helpful is on the penalty kill. It's an area of the Wild's game that has dipped in his absence, and one that General Manager Chuck Fletcher and Torchetti both cited as something Brodin's presence could improve.

"If it has a chance to go in, it's going in, but the last few goals we have to do a better job of making sure we don't allow it to get up top, and over," Torchetti said. "The (Alex) Ovechkin goal and the (Jarome) Iginla goal were almost identical, so we have to do a better job off of that."

With Brodin in the lineup, the Wild has allowed 7.1 shorthanded goals-against per 60 minutes. With him out of the lineup that number risen to 12.6.

"It's a big area we have to improve on," Torchetti said.

With how tight the Wild's games have been lately, each of the past four tied or with a team leading by a goal in the final five minutes of regulation, the difference between a successful or unsuccessful kill can make the difference.

"That's the thing on the penalty kill: you mess up a little bit, and it's a goal against," Jarret Stoll said. "It's a big thing. A power play, if you have an off power play, you're not really getting a goal against. It's a big difference."

And with points so valuable at this time of the year, the differences in the details are crucial.

"For a lot of us, that's our roles: to kill penalties," Stoll said. "A big kill here or there, or a big game on the kill, you can for sure help your team win. Down the stretch, our penalty kill is going to have to be spot-on, and in the playoffs, you're going to have to have big kills."

No matter how many skaters are on the ice Thursday, the Wild will be playing a very different Maple Leafs team than it did in early December in its other matchup with Toronto this season.

From that game, six Maple Leafs forwards remain on the Toronto's roster that played in Saint Paul in a 1-0 Wild victory on Dec. 3.

The Maple Leafs have turned the keys over to the kids, including forward Zach Hyman, a University of Michigan product, who Wild defenseman Mike Reilly played against during his time at the University of Minnesota.

"He's a good player. I remember him and (Dylan) Larkin were kind of the two go-to players for Michigan, and would produce something every single night," Reilly said. "He's fast, he's skilled, and he works pretty hard, so I'm sure he's definitely deserving of it. I know their AHL team is doing very well, and it's good to see a bunch of young guys getting a chance."

Here is the Wild's projected lineup:

Zach PariseMikko KoivuCharlie Coyle

David JonesMikael GranlundThomas Vanek

Nino NiederreiterErik HaulaJason Pominville

Chris PorterJarret StollJustin Fontaine

Ryan SuterJared Spurgeon

Marco ScandellaMatt Dumba

Mike ReillyJonas Brodin

Devan Dubnyk

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