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Parise Out Thursday As Wild Begins Road Trip

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

Goaltender Darcy Kuemper and forward Zach Parise will each miss the Minnesota Wild's game on Thursday against the St. Louis Blues.

Parise will accompany Minnesota as it begins a four-game road trip against its Central Division rival, and could play as early as Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Kuemper has a mild concussion, and will not travel with the Wild. 

"He's not participating in anything right now that's going to get his heart rate up, and that's going to be the first step, so we'll keep him back here, and let him get the rest," Head Coach Mike Yeo said.

With Parise out of the lineup, the Wild juggled its lines in practice on Wednesday. Thomas Vanek took Parise's spot to the left of Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville.

When Parise missed eight games earlier this season with a sprained MCL, it was Vanek who took his spot on that same line.

"Chemistry is just about reading off the other two guys, and I understand their games pretty well," Vanek said. "I would have to kind of look back, but I've played with Jason in the past in Buffalo, so I know his game inside and out, and [Granlund] is a guy who creates a lot."

During those eight games, Yeo said the line was a source of offense, which factored into his decision to reunite the three forwards.

Over those eight games, Vanek scored five goals, three of which at even-strength.

"We'll see if they can rediscover some of that," Yeo said.

Needing a new winger on Vanek's line, Charlie Coyle skated with Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker, two forwards Coyle has spent time with before. 

"They've been playing well for the most part this year, putting up points but playing good defensively, so I think I can add to that line, and fit right in, and just play my game with them," Coyle said.

Parise's status for the weekend, with the Wild playing a back-to-back, will be determined over the next few days.

"He's out for tomorrow, and we'll see," Yeo said. "I would say if he doesn't practice the following day that odds are he won't be (in on Saturday)."

Kuemper was expected to play on Monday against the Detroit Red Wings until he was held out with an upper-body injury.

That saw Devan Dubnyk make the start for the Wild, a day after Dubnyk left the Wild's practice on Sunday early after sustaining a pressure cut on his arm.

"It's still there a little bit, but it's very manageable now," Dubnyk said of his injury. "It won't affect me at all, just more annoying than anything when it gets hit in practice. It's not excruciating or anything; it's very manageable."

Yeo said there is no plan whether Dubnyk will play all four of the games on the road trip over the next six days.

Regardless, the Wild is viewing this trip as a crucial juncture in its season.

"I'd like to see a little continuation of what we've been doing on the road, minus the Nashville game," Yeo said. "I haven't been overly disappointed with our road play lately."

There will also be critical points in the standings on the line, as the schedule condenses, and the stretch-run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs begins.

"It's a four-game road trip where you need points because everyone around you is going," Vanek said. "We don't want to be in a situation like we were last year having to chase again.

"We've put ourselves in a good spot up until now, and we've got to keep pushing."

Here are the Wild's lines from practice on Wednesday:

Charlie CoyleMikko KoivuJason Zucker

Thomas VanekMikael GranlundJason Pominville

Nino NiederreiterErik HaulaJustin Fontaine

Chris PorterJarret StollRyan Carter

Wild Weekly

Kevin Falness will be joined Wednesday night by former Wild captain Brian Rolston at 7 p.m. for KFAN Wild Weekly

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