Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin returning to lineup just in time
Meanwhile, center Nico Sturm and defenseman Jon Merrill entered COVID protocol.
A quick glance at the ice during Wednesday’s practice at TRIA Rink elicited some good news for the Wild.
After missing several weeks with an upper-body injury, star defenseman Jonas Brodin was back in action. He rotated with other members of the blue line throughout practice, gliding across the ice with ease, and looking very much like his usual self out there.
“He looked good,” coach Dean Evason said. “We did some scrimmage stuff, and he looked fine. His legs are going to be fine. Just a matter of handling the puck, and he looked good in that area, too. It’ll be a big bonus getting him back this weekend.”
It raises the question: Are a couple of practices enough to get Brodin ready for a weekend road trip to New York for games against the Rangers and Islanders?
“I think so,” Brodin said. “I’ve been skating a lot lately with (skating coach) Andy Ness and working out with (strength and conditioning coach) Sean Skahan. I felt pretty good today being out there with the guys again.”
It was the first time Brodin has skated with his teammates since suffering the upper-body injury during a Jan. 6 win over the Boston Bruins. He took a puck off the hand in the final 20 minutes of play, and while he initially thought it was a bone bruise, he realized after taking a slap shot late in the game that he was actually much worse.
Luckily for Brodin, he has been able to skate throughout his absence, so he still feels like he’s in pretty good shape. What’s the hardest part about returning to the lineup?
“Just getting my head into the game as far as the speed with other guys,” Brodin said. “It’s weird to skate with a lot of guys out there.”
After leaving Monday’s game early with a lower-body injury, goaltender Cam Talbot was back on the ice for Wednesday’s practice.
That’s a good sign as Talbot prepares to start Friday’s game against the Rangers. It’s no secret that he would like to play against his former team, especially considering legendary goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will be getting his jersey retired before the game.
“We had a good talk with him this morning,” said Evason, who has emphasized that Talbot could have returned to the game the other night if the outcome wasn’t already well in hand. “He said he felt great yesterday, and we had a lot of rush stuff today. There was a lot of movement for him, and it was good. We’ll see how it shakes out.”
With the way the Wild have been forced to battle through adversity for much of the past month, it seemed fitting that center Nico Sturm and defenseman Jon Merrill entered COVID protocol on the same day Brodin returned to practice.
While it’s unclear if either player was symptomatic, after the upcoming all-star break the NHL will no longer require daily testing for fully vaccinated players. Instead, a player will only have to test if they are showing symptoms.
Asked if he thinks that’s a good thing, Evason admitted he wouldn’t mind if daily testing went away for the foreseeable future.
“It’d be great to not get something stuck up our nose every day,” the coach said with a laugh. “But if we have to do it to keep everybody safe, then that’s the right thing to do, too. We’ll just do whatever we need to do to try to stay as safe as we can.”