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Scandella Practices With Team; Backstrom Takes Day Off

by Kelly Erickson / Minnesota Wild

As you can imagine, when Marco Scandella was asked about his initial reaction to his injury on Feb. 4 he put it simply: “It didn’t feel good.”

Three weeks after spraining his knee in the opening minutes of the contest against Tampa Bay, Scandella was back on the ice with the team in a limited practice.

“It felt good to be back on the ice with the boys,” the blueliner said. “It’s getting better every day — just taking it slow. It felt good out there.”

Scandella didn’t finish practice with the team, but the shortened skate was planned as it was his first time participating in drills since the injury. When asked if he saw the replay of it, he said it looked as if his leg was elastic. The Lighthouse does not recommend watching said replay, especially if knee injuries give you the heebie jeebies.

With plenty of rest and rehab over the Olympic break, Scandella said he started skating on his own about six days ago and while his conditioning wasn’t 100 percent, it’s coming back quickly.

“I was actually surprised with how much Marco participated in practice and what he was able to do out there, which is a very good sign,” bench boss Mike Yeo said.

Whether or not the blueliner will be ready to go for Thursday’s game is more of a possibility than a probability, as Yeo put it. He noted that Scandella needs to get his timing and speed back. The defenseman himself said he hasn’t thought about a timetable yet, but today was a big step for him and he just wants to continue down that road to recovery.

Meanwhile, Mikko Koivu continues to get stronger each practice and is getting closer to returning to the lineup, though Yeo said that’s a decision they won’t be able to make until Thursday. But, they will continue to push him as hard as they can in practice.

Though Marco returned to practice, Niklas Backstrom was given the day off. Yeo said the goaltender is battling some mid-body soreness and he was kept off as a precautionary measure.

The soreness is expected coming off of break, Yeo said, noting that several guys are probably battling different bouts of soreness as well. With a day off, Yeo is hoping the netminder will feel better soon and return to practice tomorrow.

As of right now, Yeo is taking the goaltender situation “day by day, just how we’ve been doing it all along.”

Prior to break, the Wild turned to Darcy Kuemper, who went 8-2-2 in 13 games started since Jan. 7. But with several weeks off, Yeo knows they need to stay on him in practice, to make sure he stays on top of his game.

“I think it says a lot about him and the attitude he’s had where he hasn’t gotten complacent or comfortable,” Yeo said. “… He’s getting a lot of attention from us right now and I think that’s going to be important the rest of the way.”

The 23-year-old netminder has faced several different challenges this season, and coming off of break and attempting to keep up his play will be the latest one. Yeo said he’s anxious to see how he handles it.

“What I like is that the different challenges that he’s faced — whether it’s coming off a tough game or getting into a situation where he wasn’t quite expecting to play — he’s risen to that challenge,” Yeo said. “But this is a new one now too.”

Happy Greetings All Around

Over break the Lighthouse missed the opportunity to congratulate Torrey Mitchell and his wife Brindy on the happy arrival of their daughter, Kate. Mitchell told the PONDcast that his daughter, and first child, was born about 10 days ago.

Mitchell said he was lucky with the timing so he was able to be there for the birth and for the first few weeks.

“You could ask all the questions you want, but there’s really no words that can describe being there for the birth and holding her for the first time,” Mitchell told the PONDcast. “It was pretty amazing.”

In other birthday news, it seems to be birthday week here at the Wild. Scandella celebrated his 24th birthday Sunday while Mikael Granlund turns 22 tomorrow. Charlie Coyle will round out the week Sunday with his 22nd as well.

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