Minnesota Wild: Miettinen nears return to ice
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Wild coach Todd Richards is looking forward to making the decision. Because that would mean Antti Miettinen would be back. Miettinen, who has missed five games because of a concussion, practiced for the second consecutive da...
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Wild coach Todd Richards is looking forward to making the decision. Because that would mean Antti Miettinen would be back.
Miettinen, who has missed five games because of a concussion, practiced for the second consecutive day Tuesday, and he looked good doing it. Miettinen was scheduled to undergo a test Tuesday afternoon that could clear him to return to action Thursday night in Atlanta.
"The way he's looked the past two days, I would be shocked if he didn't pass it," Richards said.
If he does, Richards would have to decide where to put the right winger in the lineup. Does he return Miettinen to the top line with Mikko Koivu and Andrew Brunette or does he keep Cal Clutterbuck on that line and ease Miettinen in with another group?
There are arguments for both. It's well-known how much Koivu likes Miettinen on the ice with him. On the other hand, Clutterbuck played very well with that line of late, getting the game-winning goal against Columbus on Saturday.
It sounds as if Richards is leaning toward sticking with what has been working.
"Miets has missed some time," Richards said. "And that line is used in some key moments, and they log some good minutes. Right now, Clutter has been a good fit there. We'll wait and see. The first step is the (test). I won't start thinking about it until I hear about that."
Richards doesn't expect wings Guillaume Latendresse (groin) and Chuck Kobasew (groin) and defenseman Marek Zidlicky (leg) to be ready to play Thursday. And that should mean another call to Houston.
Richards said Latendresse and Kobasew skated on their own Tuesday. Zidlicky is expected to skate some today.
"The report is Latendresse is taking some good strides," Richards said.
With four days off between games, the Wild sent center Cody Almond and winger Matt Kassian back to AHL Houston after their short stints with the Wild. Another possible callup would be Colton Gillies. If a player is called up, he will do a good bit of traveling to get to Atlanta by Thursday. The Aeros played the second of two games in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Tuesday night.
"They're way the heck out there," Richards said. "They'll be flying back into Chicago (today). So (any move) would probably be a (today) thing."
n Richards still is impressed with defenseman Nick Schultz returning to practice two days after losing three teeth while blocking a shot.
n Getting four days off between games was clearly important for a beat-up Wild team. But Richards said it was just as important mentally as physically.
"It's good to be able to enjoy it," Richards said of the team's three-game winning streak. "Sometimes, in the NHL, you play so many games, you get a streak going and you don't get to enjoy it."
n Richards said he would use both Niklas Backstrom and Jose Theodore in goal in back-to-back games Thursday and Friday. He said he had not yet decided which goalie would go first.