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Reilly Recalled, Could Make NHL Debut This Weekend

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

At the beginning of December, defenseman Mike Reilly spent a week with the Minnesota Wild after being recalled from Iowa.



Though he didn't make his NHL debut, the 22-year-old rookie defenseman spent every second around the team, in the ear of Assistant Coach Darryl Sydor, and soaking in as much knowledge as he could process.

Reilly, who said he's now, " feeling like myself," got a chance to clear his head and get back to what allows him to be successful.

"The week I was here was really beneficial," he said. "I went back down there, and just was kind of being me a little bit, and not thinking the game as much.

"You're still learning, and it's your first year pro, so there are a lot of things that need work."

Reilly was again recalled by the Wild on Friday, and could make his NHL debut this weekend with Minnesota playing a back-to-back, at Dallas on Saturday, and then home against New Jersey the next night. 



"I don't know for sure if I'm in, but it seems like there's a really good chance," Reilly said. "Obviously I've been working hard for this, and the last few weeks down there have been a lot better."

On both a personal and team level, improvement has followed Reilly after the week he spent with the Wild in early December back to Iowa. In his nine AHL games since reassignment, Reilly has three goals and six assists, a point per-game player. He's taken 21 shots on goal, and Iowa has gone 4-4-1.

"I want to see him show us what he's got, if he plays," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "At this point, he should be pretty familiar with the type of game we want to play structure-wise, system-wise, our philosophy, and what we're looking for from our defensemen."

How Reilly would factor in is not as clear. Defenseman Marco Scandella, who took an awkward fall into the boards during the Wild's game on Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers, should play on Saturday, according to Yeo.

Defenseman Nate Prosser, who sat out a second straight game with a hand injury, is more of an unknown, and Yeo said he would learn more about Prosser's status later on Friday.

Without divulging any lineup decisions, Yeo said, " … that there's a chance (Reilly plays)."

If Reilly debuts, he'll be thrown right into the fire of pro hockey against the NHL's top scoring team in the Dallas Stars.

It's a game that both Yeo and Reilly said the rookie could mesh well in, and Yeo said there is no trepidation based on the opponent.

"That's not the way we operate," Yeo said. "We have confidence in the players we have here. We don't call them up if we don't think they're ready, or if they don't have the ability to come in, and help, and contribute."

KUEMPER GETTING CLOSER

During the same practice goalie Devan Dubnyk sustained a pressure cut on his arm, his backup, Darcy Kuemper, took a shot up high that caused a mild concussion. 



"It was kind of a bad one for the goalies there, a little bit of bad luck," Kuemper said. 



Kuemper though, after laying low for a few days, resumed skating while the Wild was on a recent four-game road trip with Wild Skills and Skating Coach Andy Ness. 



"That kind of eliminated a lot of the rust, so I've been feeling pretty good out there," Kuemper said after practicing on Friday.

Kuemper said he hopes he can back up tomorrow, and, depending on how things go, be ready to start on Sunday against the Devils.



"I just (need) more practice reps with the guys," Kuemper said. "Like I said, I got to skate, but only with one shooter. You can do a lot more with more than one guy out there. Tomorrow is a big pregame skate, and I'll have a good focus, and I'll be ready."

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