ST. LOUIS -- Matt Hendricks isn't expected to play on Saturday in St. Louis, but his presence here is a clear indication that the veteran isn't far off from a return to the lineup.
In fact, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said Friday he expects Hendricks to play at some point during the next week with Minnesota beginning its California leg of its franchise-record seven-game road swing on Monday.
Hendricks has been nursing a lower-body injury for the past couple of weeks, working daily to get back to the lineup as quickly as possible. While missing any amount of time is less than ideal, Hendricks may have dodged a bullet when it comes to the severity of the injury.
Injured during the Wild's Oct. 16 game against Arizona, Hendricks was rolled up on from behind, an injury that looked similar to Nino Niederreiter's injury against the Chicago Blackhawks last season.
Video: Matt Hendricks on return from injury
"It's a scary part of the game for sure because you don't know how long it's going to be," Hendricks said. "I got lucky. The brace did what it was supposed to do."
In the couple weeks since, Hendricks said he spent lots of time with Wild strength coach Sean Skahan on the fan bike and with Andy Ness on getting his skating stride back.
"I'm feeling strong and ready to get back at it here," Hendricks said. "It's day-to-day right now, but I want to play some games. It's not a lot of fun sitting [out] every day by yourself."
With defenseman Nate Prosser playing with Iowa this weekend on a conditioning stint, Hendricks will serve as the team's emergency skater tonight.
"Bringing an extra player ... I think you have to or you're only setting yourself up for something bad," Boudreau said.
Hendricks has yet to find the scoresheet in five games this season but is considered a vital cog in the Wild's dressing room as well as yet another penalty killing option for a unit that currently ranks fifth-best in the League.
"He's a good penalty killer, he gives you good energy and if he has to drop the gloves, no matter how old he is, he would and he's shown it," Boudreau said. "He knows how to play the game. He's a really good presence in the room and on the bench when he is playing."
Here are the projected lines:
Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund
Jordan Greenway - Eric Staal - Charlie Coyle
Jason Zucker - Joel Eriksson Ek - Nino Niederreiter
Marcus Foligno - Eric Fehr - J.T. Brown
Ryan Suter - Matt Dumba
Jonas Brodin - Jared Spurgeon
Nick Seeler - Greg Pateryn
Jaden Schwartz - Brayden Schenn - Vladimir Tarasenko
Zach Sanford - Ryan O'Reilly - David Perron
Patrick Maroon - Tyler Bozak - Alex Steen
Robby Fabbri - Robert Thomas - Oskar Sundqvist
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Joel Edmundson - Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn - Carl Gunnarsson
Wild Warmup: Minnesota at St. Louis