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Parise returns to team practice; Granlund considered day-to-day

Injured forwards making progress; no timetable set for return

by Kayleigh Jackson / Wild.com

ST. PAUL -- Forward Zach Parise joined his Wild teammates at practice Monday morning after skating on his own for several days. Parise, who hasn't played a game yet this year while recovering from an undisclosed injury, is hopeful to return to full game action soon, although there is no exact timetable laid out yet. 

"It's nice to get back in a group setting and off of skating by myself," Parise said. "Practice was good, lots of skating and up-tempo. It was good to be out with more people and making some plays." 

In his first practice back, Parise skated with Matt Cullen and Daniel Winnik on the fourth line. His usual linemate from last season, Eric Staal, skated on the top line with Charlie Coyle -- also a frequent linemate of Parise's -- and Marcus Foligno. 

Though Parise isn't sure if he'll be able to play Thursday night in Chicago or Saturday for the Wild's home opener, he said he's making progress recovering.

"Injuries are always tough," Parise said. "I'm optimistic that I'm out of the woods now and can move on from it."

Parise scored 19 goals and put up a total of 42 points in 69 games last season. His scoring ability, along with his leadership qualities, are invaluable to the team. 

He also takes fairly few penalties, racking up only 30 penalty minutes last season -- one of the higher totals in his entire career. With an upswing in penalty calls in this young season, Parise's presence will especially be important on the power play. 

Video: Parise joins the team for practice

However, neither he nor coach Bruce Boudreau are intent on rushing him back into the lineup.

"He made it through the whole practice, and he made it through the little skate at the end," Boudreau said of Parise. "He's gonna be the one, and the trainers and doctors, that are gonna be saying, 'Hey, I'm ready to play.'" 

"It's more so waiting until it feels 100 percent; I feel like I've been playing too much lately below 100 percent and it gets to be a challenge after a while," Parise said. "I'd like to feel good going into the season and not being worried about an injury."

"When you have the few amount of games that we have right now, you don't want to make something worse and worse and worse," Boudreau said. 

This philosophy applies to not only Parise but also to fellow forward Mikael Granlund, who did not play in Saturday's matchup against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Granlund -- who led the team in scoring last season -- was not at practice Monday morning, as Boudreau said he was at the doctor. 

"I really think it's short-term," Boudreau said. "I saw him yesterday, and he felt a lot better yesterday."  

Boudreau said he expects to know more after meeting with Granlund later Monday. 

Video: Bruce Boudreau after practice

In Granlund's absence, Nino Niederreiter skated on the second line with Jason Zucker and Mikko Koivu on Monday.

Though it remains to be seen exactly when Parise and Granlund will return, things are progressing in the right direction. The Wild is aided by a somewhat quirky schedule to start the season; it will have had four days between games when it plays Chicago on Thursday, then a five-day break between this Saturday's contest against Columbus and a road matchup Oct. 20 at Winnipeg.

Boudreau focused Monday's practice primarily on even-strength drills, designed to mimic situations when the team is playing with a lead or in a tie game. After bemoaning the Wild's "loosey-goosey" effort Saturday night, Boudreau is determined to avoid letting a similar situation repeat itself.

"Hopefully it's an inexpensive lesson that we learned, and hopefully it won't happen again," Boudreau said.

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