ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Wild still ‘very optimistic’ Mats Zuccarello will be ready for Game 1

Jared Spurgeon and Matt Dumba returned to the Wild lineup against the rival Colorado Avalanche.

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) shoots the puck while Vancouver Canucks right wing Brad Richardson (13) defends during the third period April 21, 2022, at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Matt Krohn / USA Today Sports
We are part of The Trust Project.

Mats Zuccarello missed the regular season finale against the rival Colorado Avalanche on Friday night at Xcel Energy Center as he continues to nurse a lower-body injury. He hasn’t played since the Wild earned a 6-3 win over the Seattle Kraken on April 22.

That said, it appears Zuccarello will still be available for the start of the NHL playoffs next week. Asked about Zuccarello’s status for the series opener against the St. Louis Blues, coach Dean Evason replied, “We’re still very optimistic that he’ll play in Game 1.”

Nonetheless, the Wild are clearly starting to make contingency plans just in case. They elevated Tyson Jost in the lineup for the regular season finale, playing him alongside Ryan Hartman and opposite Kirill Kaprizov. That would presumable be the top line if Zuccarello is not ready to go.

The good news regarding Zuccarello is his prolonged absence doesn’t appear to be due to a setback.

“He’s skated lightly,” Evason said. “Nothing has gotten worse because of anything. It’s just not healed to the point where we feel comfortable to put him in a game situation.”

ADVERTISEMENT

MORE MINNESOTA WILD COVERAGE:
Pro
Just doing some basic arithmetic, the 25-year-old Fiala figured the Wild wouldn’t be able to afford him this offseason
Pro
After this week’s blockbuster move, the Wild now have two first-round picks in the 2022 NHL Draft
Pro
The 25-year-old Fiala is fresh off the best season of his career in which he scored 33 goals, 52 assists, and 85 points.
Pro
This is a good sign that Dewar will be a regular in the NHL when next season rolls around
Pro
In total, the Wild have roughly $8 million in cap space heading this offseason.
Pro
With captain Jared Spurgeon in charge, and alternate captains Marcus Foligno and Matt Dumba leading alongside him, the Wild felt different this season
Pro
He put together the best individual campaign in franchise history, setting single season records with 47 goals, 61 assists, and 108 points.
Pro
GM Bill Guerin did a terrific job assembling the 2021-22 Wild. Unfortunately, the bottom line was the same
Pro
After falling to the St. Louis Blues in the first round, the Wild have a lot of things to figure out this summer.
Pro
After finishing the regular season with 33 goals and 52 assists, Fiala did not score a goal in the playoffs.

No rest

While the Wild considered resting players down the stretch, the fact that they wanted home-ice advantage in the first round ultimately made their decision for them.

Thus, the Wild fielded a full lineup in the regular season finale, while the Avalanche rested top players like star center Nathan MacKinnon, star defenseman Cale Makar and starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

“We put projections together of games that we thought maybe some people could come out of our lineup,” Evason said. “We’ve debated it for sure. There’s a lot of different variable for why we’ve done what we’ve done. And one of them is to continue to play like the Minnesota Wild play and have the people in the lineup that we think will start in the playoffs.”

Injury updates

Jared Spurgeon and Matt Dumba returned to the Wild lineup for the game against the Avalanche. That provided the blue line with a major boost as Jake Middleton played alongside Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin played alongside Dumba and Jon Merrill played alongside Dmitry Kulikov.

It’s pretty much a guarantee that’s the defensive pairings the Wild use in Game 1 against the Blues next week.

Related Topics: MINNESOTA WILDHOCKEY
What to read next
Pro
He knows he will have to rely on the partisan support when he tries to stop six-time champion Novak Djokovic from reaching a 32nd Grand Slam final.
Pro
The show must go on, and a job is a job. But when gun violence hits so close to home, it’s impossible to focus on the game below, no matter the stakes.
Pro
Byron Buxton put on a show defensively, beginning a crucial triple play to keep the game tied in the seventh inning.
Pro
Sańo, who had surgery to repair a torn meniscus about two months ago in early May, went 0 for 4 with a fly out and three groundouts in his first rehab game for the Twins’ Florida Complex League team.