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Foligno returns; Granlund gets closer as Wild travels north

Parise will miss weekend road trip and continues to recuperate

by Kayleigh Jackson /

ST. PAUL -- It's all systems go for Marcus Foligno, who's donning a new cage on his helmet and a sizable bruise under his left eye.

The Wild forward missed Saturday's home opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets after sustaining a facial fracture last Thursday in a fight against the Chicago Blackhawks' John Hayden. A quick surgery and a few equipment modifications later, Foligno is back and ready for game action.

"I'm just excited to get back out there," Foligno said. "I'll get used to [the cage] pretty quick." 

The fracture came from a blow that Foligno described as "a good haymaker that came from way downtown," and kick-started a string of injuries that would ultimately force him and fellow forwards Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter from the same game. Just one week later, Foligno is back on the Wild's top line. 

"A fight's a fight," Foligno said. "You get licked once in a while and you just keep on going." 

Foligno said he expects to be in the lineup for both games on the Wild's upcoming Canadian road trip. While he'll probably keep the cage on for another two weeks, he said it won't impact how he approaches the game or what he contributes to the Wild. 

"I have no qualms about him jumping in and being the guy he was before he left," coach Bruce Boudreau said. 

Video: Foligno, Granlund Return to Practice

Foligno spent most of Thursday's practice at Xcel Energy Center on a line with Eric Staal and Chris Stewart. With all three players towering over six feet tall, it's a line that can provide both physicality and an offensive touch. Meanwhile, a familiar second line developed behind them. 

Mikael Granlund practiced with the team on Thursday, skating with Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker and taking part in every element of practice except the conditioning drill at the end. With Granlund on the mend from a groin injury, Boudreau said he didn't want to push things with so much stop-and-start skating. 

However, Granlund will travel with the team as a game-time decision. 

"It was a good practice, and it's getting better," Granlund said. "You really want to be out there and play but you know you gotta be smart and don't want to be battling with that any longer than you have to." 

"I thought he moved fine; he still handles the puck as well or better than anybody," Boudreau said. "But again, it's one of those things that looking fine in practice and looking fine in a game might be [a far cry]." 

In the 2016-17 season, Granlund was one of three Wild players to pick up six points in five games against the Winnipeg Jets, whom the Wild play at 7 p.m. CT Friday before a 9 p.m. CT tilt Saturday in Calgary.

While Foligno and Granlund are nearing their returns, Boudreau had no news on Zach Parise after the forward left practice Monday and saw a doctor Wednesday. Parise is out for at least this weekend's games, and from there they'll take things day by day, Boudreau said.

Reinforcements from Iowa -- Luke Kunin, Landon Ferraro and Zack Mitchell -- arrived Wednesday. Kunin, who played in his first NHL game Saturday on home ice, skated on a line with Matt Cullen and Tyler Ennis. 

"I feel good, I feel more confident," Kunin said. "You got little jitters your first game obviously, but I thought I got better as the game went on and I felt good today ... looking forward to tomorrow night."

Kunin isn't the only one looking forward to it. After five days between games, the team has six games in the next 12 days. "It's like we're starting the season right now," Boudreau said.

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