WILD: Offense needs boost with Koivu, Bouchard out
ST. PAUL The Minnesota Wild made a pair of roster moves Sunday to give themselves some forward depth in advance of their three-game road trip to Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. But they're hoping they won't need the reinforcements they just call...
The Minnesota Wild made a pair of roster moves Sunday to give themselves some forward depth in advance of their three-game road trip to Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. But they're hoping they won't need the reinforcements they just called up from Houston.
Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard skated with the Wild in a 70-minute workout before the team left for Vancouver, and although coach Mike Yeo said the team is "planning not to have" either play tonight against the Canucks, both are day to day and could return to the lineup.
Minnesota called up Chad Rau and Jed Ortmeyer from Houston in the event that neither Bouchard (who is recovering from a broken nose) nor Koivu (who missed Saturday's game because of a lower-body injury) is able to play. But it seems likely the team will have at least one of the two forwards before it returns home Dec. 26.
"We can't sit around and wait for them. We have a job to do while they're not in the lineup," Yeo said. "But those guys are day to day, and obviously we'd be very happy to get them back."
Bouchard, who hasn't played since taking a hard check from Winnipeg's Zach Bogosian at the end of the Wild's loss Tuesday, was almost back in the lineup Saturday night. But, in the end, Yeo said he decided it was best to be cautious.
Bouchard was able to skate with Koivu and Dany Heatley on the Wild's regular top line Sunday.
"I felt OK," Bouchard said. "We're still going to take it day by day, see how the day goes, and hopefully I'll
be ready to go tomorrow night."
There's little the Wild could use more right now than the reunion of their top line; the team managed just nine shots in the first two periods of Saturday's 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders before rallying in the third period to force overtime and pick up a point.
Minnesota got a strong effort from recent call-ups Jarod Palmer and Warren Peters, but the lack of playmaking ability at the top of its lineup was evident. Even adding Bouchard to the lineup would give the offense a boost, because Heatley seemed to click with Matt Cullen centering his line Saturday night.
Rau ready for NHL debut: When he skated for Yeo in Houston last season, Rau left an impression on the coach with his natural goal-scoring ability. He was the team's fifth-leading scorer with 40 points during the regular season and had six goals in 24 playoff games as the Aeros reached the Calder Cup finals.
Now, the Eden Prairie native could get his chance to become the latest Wild rookie to step in and contribute.
"He's got some skill offensively," Yeo said. "He's a smart player. He's a guy that did a great job for us last year, and, from what I understand, he's picked up where he left off. We've seen the success that all of these guys have come up and had, and we're expecting the same from him."
Rau has 14 points in 29 games for Houston this season.
Defensemen on the mend: As many problems as the Wild's forwards are having trying to stay healthy, the team's defensemen seem to be avoiding the injury bug for now.
Marco Scandella, who got clipped on the skate by a shot early in Saturday's game and looked a step slow most of the night, skated Sunday and should be healthy for tonight's game, Yeo said.
Justin Falk said he also has recovered enough from an upper-body injury to play, though he might have a tough time cracking the lineup given how many healthy and effective blueliners the Wild have right now.
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