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Status of injured players still murky

Update on Parise expected Thursday while Granlund, Foligno inch closer to return

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

ST. PAUL -- Wild assistant coach Darby Hendrickson practiced so well on Monday he received a promotion from the club's fourth line to its third. 

With the Calgary Flames on the horizon this weekend and 45-year-old Jaromir Jagr expected to play, it's not a completely ridiculous notion. Jagr is, after all, six months older than Hendrickson.

Unfortunately for Wild fans yearning for the days of yesteryear, there are no plans for Hendrickson to suit up for real. Asked how much the current version of Hendrickson measures up against the one Wild coach Bruce Boudreau remembers from a decade ago, Boudreau cracked a wry smile.

"Well, they are similar looking. Do they play the same? Not so much," Boudreau said. "Listen, I give him full kudos for putting the stuff on and going out there and trying. And for a guy that's done it for two days and hasn't been playing for 10 years, he's done a pretty good job."

The Wild has a day off on Wednesday, and when the club convenes for practice on Thursday before a flight to Winnipeg, it's expected to have reinforcements in from Iowa, meaning Hendrickson's time in full gear may be coming to a close soon.

With any luck, the Wild could also have some of its own players back soon as well.

Although Zach Parise had a setback in his return from an undisclosed injury at practice on Monday, he was around the rink on Tuesday. Boudreau said he'll visit the doctor on Wednesday, and the team will see exactly how large of a setback Monday was. 

Video: Bruce Boudreau Practice Update

"With him missing Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I'm not promising that he'll be on the ice Thursday or Friday or Saturday. But I don't know," Boudreau said. "I mean, optimistically, I'd say, hey, listen, whatever it was is gone and he feels great and hopefully he's ready to go."

Boudreau was optimistic about other injured players, however.

He said he expects Marcus Foligno to practice with the team on Thursday, and he's certainly a possibility to play in games this weekend. While he won't be dropping the mitts anytime soon, Foligno's big body and physical game would be a welcome presence against the Jets and Flames.

Mikael Granlund is also making good progress in recovery from a groin injury. He was on the ice again before practice and came away unscathed. He'll skate on Wednesday and again on Thursday. 

While it was originally believed he would miss this weekend's games, Boudreau isn't ready to rule him out yet.

"Granlund is a possibility, I guess, maybe more in my eyes than the doctors'. But he's skated the last couple of days, and he'll skate tomorrow and Thursday," Boudreau said. "I don't know if he'll be able to practice with us, but there's a possibility, I think."

With so many players injured and Hendrickson skating on the third line, Tuesday's practice was again filled with battle drills and skating. While there was some teaching, a bulk of that work will come Thursday when Boudreau and the Wild has a full complement of players.

"The numbers, it's different. You have to dig back into the archives of when I did this on a regular basis in the '90s [as a coach in the ECHL]," Boudreau said. "But if you can get an hour of good skating, get something out of them with the lesser numbers, it's amazing how much better shape you can get into."

Cullen on the wing

Boudreau has moved some players around this week, putting Joel Eriksson Ek on the left wing with Eric Staal on the first line on Monday. 

Tuesday, Staal's good buddy Matt Cullen had a red jersey on and was playing on the wing, while Eriksson Ek had a yellow jersey on and was back at center.

"I just wanted to put Eriksson Ek back at center to see how he felt," Boudreau said. "[Cullen's] played wing before, so we'll just give him a little clue on remembrance thing."

Perfect timing

While Boudreau admitted he would rather be playing games right now, the break in the Wild's schedule likely comes at the perfect time. 

While Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter are each a ways away from re-joining the lineup, and Parise's status is up in the air, this week's schedule gap has allowed Granlund and Foligno an opportunity to miss fewer games. 

That won't be the case beginning next week.

After back-to-back contests this weekend, the Wild returns home and begins a stretch of six-straight at Xcel Energy Center and will play at least three games every week from Oct. 31 through the first full week in December. 

The next break in the schedule will come when the Wild plays one game in a span of five days between Dec. 3 and Dec. 7, but the team will be in the midst of a trip to the West Coast.

"We are looking forward to playing games and, quite frankly, when we start playing Friday we only have three real practices until Dec. 4," Boudreau said. "[By then], we'll have enough games where we'll be saying, 'Jeez. We need practice time.'"

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