The Wild’s New Year’s resolution should be to stay healthy. Minnesota has had 35 different players suit up for them this season, the most in the NHL, and has lost 155 man games due to injury. However, the team is looking to make a second-half run and during the first skate of 2012, the Wild welcomed back some familiar faces.
Devin Setoguchi, Clayton Stoner and Casey Wellman were full participants today at Xcel Energy Center for the team’s practice. The players weren’t eased into the action, as today’s skate was an intense hour and a half practice with several defensive zone drills and a bag skate at the end.
In his first day back, Setoguchi was reunited on a line with Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley, and was stationed in front of the net on the top power play unit.
“I felt good as far as getting back into the flow of practice,” said Setoguchi, who has been out since Dec. 6 and has missed 12 games with a lower body injury. “There’s definitely a good chance I could be playing (Wednesday in Vancouver).”
“We’ll see how it feels tomorrow after another hard practice again and reevaluate from there.”
Wellman has missed nine games and was placed on the injured reserve on Dec. 18. Stoner has missed four games and has been out since Dec. 22.
“I thought all the guys looked really good,” Head Coach Mike Yeo said. “In fact they looked better than I expected.”
Yeo didn’t give a timetable for either Wellman or Stoner’s return, but Stoner was optimistic that if his coach called on him Wednesday, he’d be able to go. As for Setoguchi, Yeo said that the Wild didn’t want to rush him back into action, but his presence would be a welcomed boost.
The injured Wild players will get one more chance to skate in Minnesota tomorrow before heading out to face the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday.
If you haven’t been following the World Junior Championships, you’ve been missing out on some fantastic hockey from the best under-20 players in the world, and a few of the Wild’s brightest prospects. Mikael Granlund and Team Finland skate today in the first quarter-final game against Team Slovakia. Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker have been knocked into the relegation rounds and skated against Team Latvia.
Wild.com Managing Editor Glen Andresen is flying to Calgary today to keep an eye on the action. When he’s not sampling the sweet tastes at the Chinook Honey Company, he will be reporting on the future Wild at the tourney. Check out Wild.com’s World Junior page and see how Glen and the prospects are doing.