WEDNESDAY’S STORY LINE: Captain Mikko Koivu returned to practice Wednesday afternoon in Edmonton. Koivu, who missed practice Tuesday with the flu, said he feels better but he will see how things go.
“It is a little better now, and I feel a little better now, and I think when you skate and sweat it out it helps,” Koivu said.
It appears Koivu will play Thursday against division rival Edmonton. However, coach Mike Yeo was mum on his lineup. The flu bug that has swept through the Wild locker room has afforded some Wild rookies golden opportunities and they’ve taken advantage of them.
Rookie forwards Jason Zucker and Johan Larsson, who were recalled Saturday from Houston, both put in solid performances Sunday against Detroit. Zucker netted his first career goal and Larsson got 14:02 in ice time and took two shots in his NHL debut. Rookie goaltender Darcy Kuemper had an excellent performance as a last-minute fill-in for Niklas Backstrom, who came down with the flu moments before the game. Kuemper stopped 29 shots and earned his first NHL win.
If everyone is healthy Thursday, Yeo and his staff will have to make difficult decisions on whom to sit, but Yeo said that’s a good problem to have.
“It is hard,” Yeo said. “We were just talking about that in there. You don’t like to have to do those things, but the same time it is one of those good things as far as your team and organization that you have guys that are capable of going in and doing the job and you have to make those tough decisions. Internal pressure is a good thing, too. The idea that you have to be on top of your game and you have to be ready to go out and perform, that is something that we all need every day.”
HE SAID IT: “I am sure I will be facing him a lot of time. I am sure especially the first couple times it will be a little bit weird, but we are professional. That is the way it is. As the game goes on, it is going to get a little bit easier, too,” — Koivu on facing former teammate and friend Nick Schultz for the first time