ST. PAUL -- After an ill-timed knee injury knocked him from the lineup as he was playing the best hockey of his professional career, Minnesota Wild defenseman Christian Folin feels like he is getting back in the swing of things.
Folin, who returned from a sprained knee on Dec. 13, struggled at times his first few games back in the lineup. Wild coach Bruce Boudreau even healthy scratched him against the New York Rangers and San Jose Sharks.
But Folin said the past few games he's felt more comfortable as his confidence starts to return.
"I didn't do so well for a couple of games there and I knew Bruce was upset with me. We talked about me not being on the top of my game," Folin said.
Boudreau returned Folin to the side of fellow Swede, Jonas Brodin, for the game against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. He started the game there against the Ducks the following day.
"I know him well from the last couple of years and playing 20-plus games with him at the beginning of the year," Folin said. "It's nice being back with him."
The hope is that Folin can continue to round his game back into form and play at the level he was when he went down with the injury on Nov. 25, an ailment that knocked him from the lineup for three weeks.
Prior to that, Folin was one of the great stories of the season, filling in admirably as both Marco Scandella and Jared Spurgeon nursed early-season injuries of their own.
If the Wild can keep its defense core healthy and get Folin back to his previous level, it will make things much easier for the whole group down the stretch, especially in March, when Minnesota plays 17 games in a 32-day stretch beginning Feb. 27.
"He's got to play and get back there," Boudreau said over the weekend. "He can't be a game in, game out guy. He was really solid before he got hurt, and we want him to get back there as quick possible."
After a solid work day on Tuesday, Boudreau worked the "Under-30" group on Wednesday, allowing many of his older veterans the day to rest.
Boudreau even took in part of the optional practice from the media perch in the stands before heading behind the bench for a few minutes.
"I thought yesterday was a real good day," Boudreau said. "It was sort of an experiment. Don't know how it's gonna work or if it's not gonna work, but with all the games we've got now, we seem to be like the most rested team in the League.
"I think we play nine games in 15 days before the All-Star break and after that, we're quite busy. So we wanted to give a couple of our older players and/or guys who get a lot of ice time a little break today and see how it works out for tomorrow's game."