Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley

Mikko Koivu’s return will fix the Wild tailspin… Right?

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Who knew that losing a team captain would be so destructive?

Wild coach Mike Yeo says he expects Mikko Koivu will play tonight after missing four games as the Wild take on the Avalanche. At the very least the team’s leading point scorer should help them out in one-goal games. During the Wild’s current six game losing streak, they’ve had three 2-1 losses, one courtesy of the shootout. They’ve also had four games where they scored just one goal.

After winning seven in a row and streaking out to be the NHL’s top team for a spell, the Wild have come back to earth and are now just one point ahead of red hot Vancouver for first in the Northwest Division. That’s a startling fall from grace and one that should have the Wild worried.

Koivu’s presence on the ice is needed to get the team out of its tailspin and to try and prove to many that it’s worthy of the praise it’s gotten this season. If Koivu can’t help them at least generate another goal or two, the Wild could wind up joining last season’s Stars, Thrashers, and Avalanche as teams that started out on fire only to crash and burn miserably out of the playoffs.

Here are the 10 oldest players to play a game this season

Jaromir Jagr
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This isn’t breaking news or anything. We just thought you’d like to know that three of the NHL’s 10 oldest players (who’ve played at least one game this season) are members of the Florida Panthers.

Oh, and the Panthers’ starting goalie? He’s the oldest starter in the league. (Scroll down.)

Here’s the list of skaters, topped by 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr:


Yet another veteran Panther, 36-year-old defenseman Brian Campbell, ranks 17th on the list.

Granted, the above list does not include 39-year-old Patrik Elias (who’s hurt) or 39-year-old Eric Boulton (who just re-signed with the Isles). As soon as those two play, Thornton will get pushed out of the top 10.

Now here’s the list of goalies who’ve started at least one game this season, topped by 36-year-old Roberto Luongo:


For the record, Luongo isn’t the oldest goalie under contract. That would be Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom, who’s 37.

Related: Can Florida’s old guys hang on while the young guys get better?

Hamburglar (groin) returns, Sens demote O’Connor

Andrew Hammond
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Matt O'Connor‘s time in the Canadian capital was brief, but still noteworthy.

O’Connor, the losing netminder in Sunday’s “Battle of the Backups” against Montreal — Habs No. 2 Mike Condon got the win — has been sent down to AHL Binghamton to pave the way for Andrew Hammond‘s return from a groin injury, per the Sun.

The Hamburglar has been out since the preseason, but his return is earlier than expected.

He was originally supposed to miss the first two weeks, yet now sounds as though he’ll play one of Ottawa’s two games on an upcoming road trip through Columbus and Pittsburgh.

It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.