There’s been no shortage of rest lately for the Wild, with the All-Star break and bye week only days apart earlier this month.
But quality practice time has been scarce, making the two-day tune-up before a weekend back-to-back against the Golden Knights (at home) and Stars (on the road) a valuable opportunity for the Wild.
“Sometimes when you play and you haven’t played in four or five days, you’re stiff,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “So to get the cobwebs out and everything else out today, tomorrow will be a special-teams practice and hopefully that will make us ready for Friday.”
Injured winger Nino Niederreiter practiced with the group for the first time since his latest setback. Niederreiter, who hasn’t played since Jan. 6, said he’s been dealing with a bone bruise – the same issue that sidelined him for five games at the end of December and early part of January.
“Just felt like I had to man up and play through it,” Niederreiter said. “At some point just couldn’t take the pain anymore. That’s kind of what happened.”
A return Friday remains a possibility, as Boudreau said the team will monitor Niederreiter’s status after Thursday’s session and make a game-time decision on his availability before facing the Golden Knights.
With Niederreiter rejoining the team, center Eric Staal was the only player absent from practice.
“It’s just a maintenance day,” Boudreau said of Staal. “He never got a day off, the All-Star game and all the stuff, the activities and that. So today I thought was a good day to give him a day off.”