Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 12/19/11
The Minnesota Wild embark on a very important three-game road trip through Western Canada, and it starts tonight in Vancouver against the hated Canucks. The Wild have been hit hard lately by the injury bug, but they will welcome back one of those key players tonight as Pierre-Marc Bouchard returns to the line-up.Bouchard has 5 goals and 13 assists for 18 points so far this season, and he also plays a key role on the team's top power-play unit at the point. Head coach Mike Yeo spoke this morning about the value of Bouchard to his team. "Well, you look at the guys we have out right now and it's not just the high number of players but the talent level we're missing," the coach noted. "Butch (Bouchard) has terrific skills with the puck and that is something we have really missed lately."Bouchard was playing so well when he got hurt, probably his best hockey of the season. So we are excited to get him back out there and see if he can pick up where he left off." Bouchard will likely skate on a wing with Matt Cullen in the middle and Dany Heatley on the other side. Yeo seemed pumped about the combination. "All three of those guys looked awesome at practice this morning," said Yeo, "and Bouchard's playmaking ability should mesh well with guys like Cullen and Heatley, who love to shoot the puck." The trio promises to get a ton of icetime with gunners like Setoguchi, Latendresse and Koivu still on the shelf. When asked about Koivu, Yeo was guarded but optimistic. "Mikko is making great progress and if he bounces back from the hard skate he had today and is feeling good tomorrow he might be able to give it a go in Calgary."The Wild have called up Chad Rau and Jed Ortmeyer from Houston for this road trip. Ortmeyer will play tonight in Vancouver but Rau will likely be a scratch. Ortmeyer will become the 34th different player used by the Wild this season. The team record for an entire season is 40 set back in 2009-10; right now they are on pace to use over 60 players this season.Wild live presented by Century Link will get you ready for the game tonight, with a special 60-minute pregame show starting at 8 p.m. CST.
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