When Jason Zucker suffered a broken clavicle that required surgery back in early February, the Wild said he’d be sidelined for three months.
Zucker made it two.
The 23-year-old drew back into the Minnesota lineup on Tuesday night for the first time since Feb. 9, marking a fairly impressive return from an injury that, originally, looked as though it’d rule him out for the remainder of the regular season.
When news broke of Zucker’s injury/surgery, team doctors gave a 12-week timetable for recovery. But he was back on ice four weeks after sustaining the break and, tonight in Chicago, will make his return in a pretty prominent role — on a line with Chris Stewart and Mikko Koivu.
It’s not surprising Minnesota wants to get Zucker right back into the mix. He was second to Zach Parise in goals at the time of his injury (18 to Parise’s 21) and was the team’s leading sniper at even strength. Wild head coach Mike Yeo praised Zucker’s maturation as a player this season, saying the 23-year-old’s progress “was so high this year.”
It’s been an, ahem, unconventional year in New Jersey, so consider that while reading the latest from The Record’s Tom Gulitti:
Gulitti notes the Devils didn’t hand out trophies during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign either; the reason given was that it wasn’t a full season.
As for this season, it’s been both odd and disappointing. The Devils began with one head coach (Peter DeBoer) and, barring something crazy, will finish with three (Lamoriello, Adam Oates, Scott Stevens). They also missed the playoffs for the third straight year, something former captain Zach Parise said he “never would’ve predicted.”
“Just because of the way things are run,” Parise said in early March, per the Star-Ledger. “I hope they can pull off something at the end of the year, or next year, and get back in.”
Your guess is as good as any to why the Devils aren’t handing out hardware. If it’s because Lamoriello and company didn’t want to celebrate a disappointing campaign, that’s fine, but New Jersey gave out trophies last year — Jaromir Jagr won MVP, Andy Greene earned Unsung Hero and Ryan Carter took home the Players’ Player — despite the fact the Devils finished 10th in the Eastern Conference, with just 35 wins.
As is often the case in New Jersey, you can probably chalk this latest decision up to Lou being Lou.
Minnesota could get a key lineup piece back before the playoffs.
Jason Zucker, who’s been out with a broken collarbone since early February, has been cleared to practice fully and could draw back in for some games prior to the end of the regular season, per the Star-Tribune.
If it happens, it’ll be a rather speedy recovery.
When news broke of Zucker’s injury on Feb. 10, he was expected to miss three months while recovering. But he was back on ice four weeks after sustaining the break and, should he play prior to the end of the regular season (Minnesota’s last game is on Apr. 11), Zucker will have been sidelined for just two months.
(Which bodes well for Patrick Kane’s return in Chicago. Just saying.)
Getting Zucker back would be key for the Wild. He was second to Zach Parise in goals at the time of his injury (18 to Parise’s 21) and was the team’s leading sniper at even strength. Wild head coach Mike Yeo praised Zucker’s maturation as a player this season, saying the 23-year-old’s progress “was so high this year.”
There was no miraculous third-period comeback for the Calgary Flames. Only a third-period scoring outburst for the Minnesota Wild.
The Wild moved to 93 points, one back of the Chicago Blackhawks, who were in action Friday, for third in the Central Division after defeating the visiting Flames by a final score of 4-2. Contrary to what has become almost like their trademark, the Flames actually conceded three goals in the final 20 minutes and then couldn’t mount a comeback. It’s a blow to their playoff hopes.
Thomas Vanek gave Minnesota the lead earlier in the third period. And the Wild poured it on after that. Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise increased the lead to three goals. Game over, even if the Flames did get one back.
The Flames remain on the outside of the playoff picture for now, one point back of the L.A. Kings for third in the Pacific Division.
Karri Ramo accepts the loss for Calgary, but it’s hard to find fault in his play. The Flames had been living dangerously all game. The Wild had 28 shots on goal through two periods — Calgary had 15, so it was a bit lopsided in that department — but only one goal, with Ramo doing all he could to shut the door.
Devan Dubnyk might not get the Vezina Trophy given that he had to spend a good portion of the season with the Arizona Coyotes, but there’s a strong argument to be made that he’s been the most valuable player in the league since mid-January when he was acquired by the Minnesota Wild. He added to his impressive run in Minnesota by leading the Wild to a 2-1 shootout victory over the New York Islanders tonight.
The 28-year-old goaltender turned aside 37 of 38 shots in regulation before beating Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, and John Tavares in the skills competition. Wild forward Zach Parise scored the game-deciding goal.
Dubnyk has now earned 10 straight road victories, becoming just the third active goaltender to accomplish that feat, per the NHL. This is also the longest road winning streak in Minnesota’s history.
“[Dubnyk] just deserves this story right now,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said, per the team’s Twitter feed. “He deserves to be talked about.”
“He was the big reason why we were able to get out of that first period not down 5-0,” Parise told the Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff.
The Wild goaltender now has a 33-11-3 record, 2.07 GAA, and .930 save percentage in 51 games this season, including his time with Arizona.