As the media took in practice this morning, the anticipation for tomorrow’s lineup was growing.
There he was skating on what could only be presumed as the top line, participating in all aspects of practice. By the look of things, Zach Parise could be in the lineup against Chicago.
As we made our way down to the underbelly of Xcel Energy Center, we waited patiently to hear our suspicions confirmed. After skating alongside Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter, it seemed inevitable.
“We don’t know that yet,” Yeo said, of Parise’s return. “The plan was to get him involved, full duty in practice and see how he responds to that.
“He looked good. We weren’t really worried about how he was going to look, it’s a matter of how he feels.”
Well, that’s not really a surprise.
Parise said he’ll wait until after morning skate tomorrow on whether or not he’ll play. He said he liked how it felt today in practice and will see how it responds this afternoon.
As of today, Parise has missed 14 consecutive games since he was placed on Injured Reserve on Dec. 28. But in the weeks leading up to that date, Parise said he didn’t feel comfortable skating since sustaining the initial injury on Nov. 25 at St. Louis, when he blocked a shot off his left foot.
“The first time, I didn’t find out till a little later what was really going on with it. At first I felt like I could play with it,” Parise said. “I just really did not feel comfortable on the ice that whole time. I thought it would go away and it didn’t. I felt sitting out and let it heal would be the best thing to do.”
Now, after that time off, he feels better — and looks better on the ice — and is confident he’s past the point of reinjuring his foot.
“It still can get sore after skating and things like that,” Parise said. “But as long as I feel like it’s not preventing me from doing anything on the ice, I think I can play.”
As mentioned above, Parise spent practice skating with Coyle and Niederreiter, allowing him full involvement, rather than rotating in. With that line in place, Dany Heatley joined Jason Pominville and Mikael Granlund, while Jason Zucker rotated in on the fourth line with Erik Haula, Torrey Mitchell and Stephane Veilleux.
Niklas Backstrom also returned to practice today as Johan Gustafsson was reassigned to Iowa of the AHL this morning. Yeo said Backstrom looked like he was getting better as practice went on and is expecting he’ll back up Darcy Kuemper tomorrow night.
If Parise does play tomorrow, the bench boss knows they have to remain realistic with their expectations regarding the left-winger.
“I think we have to be fair with our expectations just like any player that comes back,” Yeo said. “Obviously we’re going to expect great things from him but we have to recognize that he’s been off for a long time. It takes some time to get the timing back. … I just think we have to give him a fair chance to get into the game and get comfortable.”
Mystery Puck Sale
If you're going to the game tomorrow, be sure to stop by sections 104 and 121 as the Wild Wives and Girlfriends will be selling mystery pucks to benefit the Wild Foundation, while supplies last. A $25 purchase guarantees you'll receive a puck autographed by a current Wild player — the fun is finding out who you get.