WEDNESDAY'S STORYLINE: After a 15-game absence due to an upper body injury, the Wild will get captain Mikko Koivu back tomorrow against Calgary. Koivu has missed 23 of the past 27 games, but his frustration has turned to excitement in anticipation of tomorrow night's game.
"I am very excited, it has been a long couple weeks here. Feeling good to be out there in practice, but obviously a game situation is what you are looking for and I am very excited, added Koivu.
Mike Yeo knows the presence of Koivu will provide an immediate boost to the lineup.
"It should provide a big lift for all of us, we are excited to have him back in there. What a leader he is for us, as far as emotionally what he puts into the game and his will to win every night, and skill wise, what he can add to our group, said Yeo.
The loss of Koivu made a huge impact on Minnesota's lineup this season. Koivu has played 45 games this season and tallied 37 points; the Wild are 22-16-7 in those games. In the 27 games Koivu has missed, Minnesota is 8-16-3.
The Wild offense has struggled all season, but even more notably without the team Captain. Minnesota has averaged 2.31 goals per game with Koivu and only 1.63 without him. The power play is 16.0 with Koivu and 12.9 without him.
"You look at the story of the season and you look at what has happened with us, if anything we should all appreciate how valuable he is to our organization, said Yeo.
The loss has been huge not only in numbers, but also the intangibles the Koivu brings to the lineup.
"Certainly we lost some other guys, but he is such a warrior in the way he goes out and his will to win is so high that every night, that it is infectious on the rest of the group, said Yeo.
"That is what makes him a great leader. He is not the most vocal that is going to be around, but every night when he is putting on his gear and he is stepping over the boards, every single player wants to follow that guy into battle.
Koivu will play on a line with Dany Heatey and Devin Setoguchi tomorrow and Yeo said they will monitor Koivu's minutes in his first game back.
"He wants to be out there and contributing and so if he is good enough, and we feel his is good enough, then we will get him out there. Having said that, I am not going to put him out there 25 minutes tomorrow and expect him to be at the same level as before he got hurt, said Yeo. "We will monitor his minutes, we will see how he is doing. We always keep a pretty close eye on that with all the guys, especially the guys that are coming back from an injury.
LUNDIN SHUT DOWN: Defenseman Mike Lundin has been officially shut down for the season due to a lower body injury. Lundin, who signed as a free agent in the offseason, only played 17 games in his first season with Minnesota.
HE SAID IT: "I think last game showed we can play any team in this league. Beating Vancouver 2-0 should give us a lot confidence going forward here. We have 10 more games to go and we have our goals in the room of what we want to do in the last push here. Obviously not the spot we want to be, but all we can do is play as good as we can, as hard as we can the next 10 games and see where we are at after that. -- Koivu on the last 10 games of the season