Wild captain Koivu (ankle surgery) confident he’ll play in Sochi


Out since early January after undergoing ankle surgery, Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu is confident he’ll be ready to represent Finland at the Winter Olympics — even if he doesn’t play any games for the Wild prior to.

“It always matters (to play ahead of time), but if not so be it,” Koivu said, per the Pioneer Press. “I think in my situation being off right now, not playing any games, it’s going to be good for me to play some games and practice with the team first off.

“To play in high-level hockey (in the Olympics) is going to be good for me after the tournament even if I don’t play any games here. I think it’s good for all of us.”

Koivu, who underwent the surgery after blocking a shot on Jan. 4, was expected to be out at least a month but is reportedly progressing faster than expected. He was walking without the aid of crutches just 10 days after the procedure and hopes to join Wild practices next week.

Minnesota has seven games remaining until the Olympic break, so it’s possible Koivu could draw in for the final two — Feb. 4 versus Tampa Bay, and Feb. 6 versus Nashville.

Koivu is still Minnesota’s leading scorer on this season with 35 points — this despite missing the last eight games — and is projected to be a candidate for Finland’s captaincy at the Winter Games.

Wild lose Graovac (groin) for 2-3 weeks

Tyler Graovac, Sam Reinhart,
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After making the Wild out of training camp, Tyler Graovac got some bad news on Tuesday — head coach Mike Yeo said Graovac would miss the next 2-3 weeks with a groin strain.

Graovac, 22, played just under 14 minutes in Minnesota’s crazy 5-4 comeback win over Colorado in the season-opener, but sat out Saturday’s win over St. Louis.

At 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, Graovac was a notable physical presence in the Wild lineup, and is an intriguing prospect — he impressed with AHL Iowa last year, scoring 21 goals and 46 points in 73 games.

Already without Eberle, the Oilers could also be missing Hall tonight

Taylor Hall

Taylor Hall is sick and reportedly “doubtful” for tonight’s game in Dallas.

Hall did not skate with the Oilers this morning. If he can’t play, Edmonton’s top two lines against the Stars could feature Ryan Nugent-Hopkins between wingers Teddy Purcell and Benoit Pouliot, followed by Connor McDavid centering Lauri Korpikoski and Nail Yakupov.

The Oilers — forced to start the season without top-six winger Jordan Eberle — have scored just once in their first two games, losing 3-1 in St. Louis and 2-0 in Nashville.

Edmonton returns home after tonight’s contest to play St. Louis on Thursday. Then it’s back out on the road for games against Calgary and Vancouver.