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Wild Heads West to Begin Trip Through Canada

Minnesota opens extended road stretch in Vancouver on Tuesday

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

VANCOUVER -- The Minnesota Wild headed west on Monday to begin a four-game, 10-day road trip to Canadian cities beginning on Tuesday night when it faces the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.

Minnesota practiced in Vancouver on Monday and is expected to go with the same lineup that earned a point in St. Louis against the Blues on Saturday night.

But that doesn't mean the team charter wasn't a little heavier: the club recalled defenseman Gustav Olofsson from Iowa of the American Hockey League on Sunday evening. Olofsson isn't expected to play against the Canucks, but could see action later in the trip when the Wild heads to Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto.

After sustaining a knee injury during the Traverse City Prospects Tournament in September, Olofsson was extremely limited during training camp and is just now starting to round into form.

"When I talked to [Iowa coach Derek Lalonde] on [Sunday], he told me he is playing really well," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "Statistically, he's the ninth-leading scorer in the AHL among defensemen. And he didn't have a training camp. He's just starting to get hockey ready."

Video: Gustav Olofsson Practice in Vancouver

Boudreau said Monday was the first time since Traverse City that he has seen him on the ice. Olofsson scored a goal in the first game of the tournament then was lost to injury later in the same game.

"He looks like a typical Swede: very mobile, tall, thin," Boudreau said. "And I'm sure he's got good hockey sense. I don't know when he's going to play, but he deserved it, so that's why he got called up."

Olofsson scored a goal in his last game with Iowa on Sunday and had three goals and nine points in 21 games this season.

He has already surpassed his goal total of two that he scored in 52 games last year, and after being a minus-11 in 2015-16, he's even so far this season.

"Everyone around me down there started playing better," Olofsson said. "The guys around me made it a lot easier, and I had a few games to get things back the way I wanted in terms of where I lost last year from my injury."

A second-round pick of the Wild in the 2013 draft, Olofsson made his NHL debut last season and played two games with Minnesota.


Prosser back in the mix

Injuries along the blue line have forced the Wild to shuffle the deck at times, and that has meant more playing time for guys like Nate Prosser, who rejoined the lineup in St. Louis on Saturday and will suit up against the Canucks on Tuesday.

Boudreau was pleased with the way Prosser played when both Jared Spurgeon and Marco Scandella missed time with ailments early in the season, even though Prosser's name wasn't often mentioned.

In fact, that's just how Boudreau likes it.

 "When he's playing well, doing his job, getting it out, getting it in ... Coaches don't notice him, and that's a good thing," Boudreau said.

Video: Nate Prosser Practice in Vancouver

For players like Prosser, who has never played more than 63 games in a season, sometimes less is more.

"I'm just playing a simple, hard game [when I'm playing well]," Prosser said. "Bearing down on passes, going tape to tape to get out of the zone. Playing hard, playing physical, getting under the skin of the opponent, playing hard in the corners and in front of the net. And if my number is called on the PK, then be a PKer. That's my staple."


Granlund impressing

The Wild is more than a month into the regular season, but Boudreau is still learning more and more about his team.

Lately, he has been impressed with forward Mikael Granlund, who has five points over his past four games, including a goal and four assists. 

More than anything, Boudreau said he's been impressed by the Finnish winger's creativity in the offensive zone. 

Video: Bruce Boudreau Practice in Vancouver

"He's very smart. I didn't realize how smart a player he is or how slippery he was," Boudreau said. "He looks like he's caught in traffic all the time and then he knows how to wiggle out of it.

"He's good, but his hockey sense is really good. It's hard to beat guys that know the game."

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