Bouchard, 28, missed the final 41 games of last year due to a concussion suffered on this hit from Winnipeg’s Zach Bogosian:
It was the latest in a long line of concussion issues for Bouchard, who missed 112 of 113 games over a span from March 2009 to December 2010.
Last month, Bouchard resumed practicing with AHL Houston and told Mike Russo of the Minnesota Star-Tribune he’d been “pretty much symptom free” for a few weeks.
A gifted offensive player — despite all the injuries, he’s racked up 60 points in his last 96 games — Bouchard will add some punch to a Minnesota lineup that looks to have far more scoring depth than a year ago.
Russo reports Bouchard will skate on the third like with Kyle Brodziak (Wild’s second-leading goalscorer last year, with 22) and Cal Clutterbuck.
That unit will be behind the top line of Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Dany Heatley and the second line of Matt Cullen-Mikael Granlund-Devin Setoguchi.
Of course: Ryan Suter wins it for Wild vs. ‘Hawks after those wild quotes
As of this writing, this win places Minnesota in the last wild card spot, and they’re close to elbowing in on the Chicago Blackhawks (who own a standings point advantage, but have played two more games so far in 2015-16).
Jeremy Roenick labels this 2-1 win as a “team win” for Minnesota, and it showed on that 2-1 goal, as the Wild showed off some picture-perfect passing and a willingness to crash the net for rebounds.
Let’s face it, though; Devan Dubnyk deserves plenty of credit, too.
It won’t be easy in the Central Division, and things may get heated again. Still, this is the sort of win that may just help Minnesota build up some confidence.
Hey look: Flyers reel off three straight wins for first time in 2015-16
Sure, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns – Radko Gudas might have gotten himself into some trouble, for instance – yet this is still a nice sign of life for a team expected to finish in the draft lottery.
If that fails … hey, the future may require shades.
This own-goal captures the start of Dougie Hamilton’s Flames career