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Rink Report: Prosser Ready to Jump Back into Lineup

Veteran likely to see lion's share of ice time with Brodin out of lineup

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Wild defenseman Nate Prosser is no stranger to sticky situations. Over the course of his NHL career, Prosser has played the role of seventh defenseman, filling in on short notice because of injury or illness.

Prosser will likely be thrust back into the spotlight on Thursday when the Wild hosts the Arizona Coyotes after the club announced Wednesday afternoon that Jonas Brodin will miss at least four weeks with a fractured finger.

Brodin, who sustained the injury early in the second period of a 4-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, has been one of the Wild's steadiest defensive players this season while also contributing three goals and 13 assists in 43 games.

In addition to his five-on-five play, Brodin has also found a home on both the penalty killing and power-play units. 

Video: Wild Practice - Bruce Boudreau

"He's a good player, so it's a big loss," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "But good teams persevere, we don't fold like an accordion. Somebody [else] gets into the lineup and he has to do just as good."

Prosser, who has gained the trust of Boudreau in 17 games played this season, is expected to get the first crack at replacing Brodin 5-on-5 and could even kill penalties if needed. 

The Elk River native has two assists in 17 games, well ahead of his pace from last year when he dished out three helpers in 54 games played. 

But even Prosser would acknowledge the most important thing he can do is steady the Wild's defensive core in its own zone while Brodin heals over the next month. 

Video: Wild Practice - Nate Prosser

"You never hope for an injury; it's a bummer that [Brodin] went down," Prosser said. "I just gotta be ready to go. After last night, we gotta find out groove again right from the drop of the puck."

Prosser's 260 games of NHL experience have rarely come in large bunches. He played in 54 games last year and a career-high 63 contests in 2014-15, often playing a handful of games at a time, before sitting out for a stretch. 

The veteran said he's adopted to it and does the work necessary when he's not in the lineup to make sure he's ready when called upon.

"It's just making sure you're both mentally and physically ready," Prosser said. "I'm doing a lot with [Wild strength coach] Sean [Skahan], working out, doing extra, staying after practices, just making sure that when my number is called, I'm ready to get in and play my A-game."

Boudreau said he has no qualms about putting Prosser in the lineup, but said the team may call up a defenseman from Iowa of the American Hockey League for insurance purposes. 

"[Prosser] is a hard-working guy who has been doing the same job for two or three years," Boudreau said. "[Brodin] is a power-play guy, a penalty-killing guy and everything else. He is a special guy. But [Prosser] is going to get in there and whether it's left side, right side or center ice, he's going to do a good job.

"I have no problem putting him in. We've had seven good defensemen."

Boudreau also said he won't use an injury to a key player as an excuse moving forward, especially at this point in the season. 

"Every team is getting hurt," Boudreau said. "We don't want it to happen any more, but you have to live with it. You can't be a 'woe is me' group, that's for sure."

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