Wild Wednesday: Scandella expected to play after Olympic break
Wild defenseman Marco Scandella, who is seventh on the team with an average of 18 minutes, 13 seconds of ice time per game, sprained his right knee in Tuesday's 2-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Marco Scandella and the Minnesota Wild received good injury news for a change and a perfect scenario in terms of timing.
Scandella, who is seventh on the team and fourth among defense with an average of 18 minutes, 13 seconds of ice time per game, sprained his right knee in Tuesday’s 2-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Scandella will miss Thursday’s game against the Nashville Predators, but could be ready to return by the time the team comes back from the Olympic break.
"First, when you saw it happen last night, I knew right away what it was," Yeo said. "The fact that it’s not as serious, I guess the positive is the timing of it. Hopefully he doesn’t miss anything."
Scandella, who has three goals and 13 assists, lasted just two shifts in Tuesday’s game. He got his skate tied up with Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson and went down awkwardly, his legs bent and nearly doing the splits. He had to be helped off the ice by teammates.
But fearing the worst and going through extended missed time by Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Josh Harding and Jared Spurgeon, Minnesota got a bit of encouraging news.
"Sprained his knee and kind of good news just as far as what it looked like and again, hopefully, timing-wise," Yeo said. "Obviously he won’t play tomorrow, but I’d have to think this would be time-wise, that there would be a good chance that we could have him back coming out of the break."
Thursday is Minnesota’s last game before departing for the Olympic break with Parise, Koivu, Ryan Suter, Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter scheduled to play in the Olympics. Koivu is still on injured reserve with a foot injury and won’t play Thursday, but could be medically cleared and return to play during the Olympics.
The rest of the Wild get a nearly two week break. Minnesota will return to practice on Feb. 19 and its first game after the break is Feb. 27 at Edmonton.
"If you’re going to do it, now’s the time to do it, for sure," Yeo said. "We’ll just have to make sure that we stay on top of it. He’s had a really strong season for us and obviously a very valuable piece coming out of that break. We’re going to need him. But we’ve been faced with this and guys have stepped up, and we’ll need them to do it again."
No letup: With one game remaining, Yeo cautioned against letting up before the break begins. Minnesota returned home from an extended road trip to beat Tampa Bay on Tuesday, making the Wild 10-4-2 since the start of January.
Minnesota has climbed to seventh in the Western Conference with 67 points.
"I don’t want to take it until after tomorrow’s game," Yeo said. "I just want to make sure that, obviously, we all know the break is coming. We all know the Olympics is coming and so far we’ve done a good job of staying focused on the task at hand. I’ve been a part of too many games, every team has, where you have an all-star break or a Christmas break or something and that game, if you don’t have the right focus, then it can be disappointing."
Rau traded from Iowa: The Wild made a trade among minor-league affiliates on Wednesday, sending center Chad Rau from the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League to the San Jose Sharks and their affiliate with Worcester.
Rau, an Eden Prairie, Minn. native, had one goal and six assists in 33 games for Iowa this season. The 27-year-old was selected in the seventh round of the 2005 NHL Draft and had two goals in nine NHL games with Minnesota in 2011-12.
In exchange, the Wild received right wing Curt Gogol from Worcester. Gogol, 22, had three goals, one assist and 149 penalty minutes in 40 games for Worcester, ranking sixth in the AHL in penalty minutes. He’s played the past three seasons for San Jose’s AHL team and hasn’t appeared in an NHL game.
Veilleux put on waivers: Minnesota placed forward Stephane Veilleux on waivers Wednesday. Veilleux would be sent to Iowa if he clears waivers. Yeo said Veilleux wasn’t going to play in Thursday’s game, so he would go to Iowa to keep playing.
Veilleux, 32, has one goal in 25 games for Minnesota this season. He has three goals and five assists in 20 games with Iowa this season.