Yesterday’s rest was good for three Minnesota Wild players, who are all hoping to get back to action tomorrow when the club hosts Central Division foe, Nashville Predators, at 7 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center.
Forwards Ryan Carter and Matt Cooke, both on Injured Reserve, were full participants in today’s practice, but will take their availability for game action into tomorrow. Carter has missed three games with an upper-body injury, while Cooke has missed 22 with a lower-body injury.
Goaltender Darcy Kuemper skated for the first time since taking a few shots in warmups before the Wild’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. The netminder was supposed to start against the Hawks but was ill. He spoke to the media after practice (thankfully, he spared us with all the details of his illness) and said that if called upon tomorrow, he’ll be good to go.
Cooke said that he sustained the injury in the Wild’s second game of the season in Colorado, but played the next six with the injury. The 36-year-old wanted to play through the injury and said that’s typically the mindset you have in the game. However, after some time decided that he needed to shut it down.
Unlike in any past injury, where Cooke said he had a date set, there really wasn’t a timetable. It was especially difficult because it was simply a matter of how it reacted when he skated or worked out.
“I gave up trying to set a date on when I would be back,” Cooke said. “I tried to avoid any kind of timeline the last three or four weeks because I had no idea when it was going to get better and I couldn’t keep riding the roller coaster.”
Cooke said tomorrow’s game is “a possibility” but he wants to see how it reacts in the morning skate. The good sign is that he hasn’t had a setback since he rejoined practicing with the team on Monday.
The gritty forward’s presence has been missed. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo spoke about how effectively the wing puts pressure on opposing teams’ blueliners. In practice today, Cooke skated with Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter, which would make for a pretty heavy line in the offensive zone.
Carter also said that he’d wait until tomorrow to see how his injury progressed. He said he felt good in today’s skate, but there wasn’t a lot of contact, so that would be the true test. Regardless, he’s optimistic for tomorrow’s game against the Predators.
“We’ll see how everything responds,” Carter said. “But I’m hoping, yes.”
The Wild would like to see a full compliment of players tomorrow against the Preds. Nashville sits third in the Central, eight points ahead of Minnesota, with a 20-8-2 record.
“It’s much bigger for us than it is for them right now,” Yeo said. “These guys are off to a great start this season.
“You look at their defensive group and the way they skate, the way they execute, and obviously their goaltender (Pekka Rinne) is a huge part of what they’ve got going too.”