As Joe discussed yesterday, Pierre-Marc Bouchard is expected to make a somewhat surprising return to NHL action tonight after missing 112 out of the Wild’s last 113 games because of concussion issues and other injury problems.
Kent Youngblood passes along word that Bouchard will start the game with the team’s fourth line and that Wild coach Todd Richards plans on monitoring his progress as the game goes along. Bouchard said he will probably play about 10 minutes but Richards said he wouldn’t put a specific limit on his time on ice.
Bouchard might be just the kind of playmaking forward that the Wild need right now. He won’t set the hockey world on fire, but he has a career high of 63 points while also putting up 59 and 57 point seasons.
Bouchard said he’s been feeling very good, symptom-free, for the last 10 days or two weeks. A few days ago he, his doctor and Wild management held a conference call in which Bouchard was given the green light.
And now there are so many issues to get through. Asked if he was almost hoping to get that first hit out of the way early, he smiled. “A little bit,” he said. “Not a big one, though.”
Richards has long anticipated what Bouchards return could mean for his team. Bouchard is a top-six talent, that’s for sure. In practices Richards has seen Bouchard ignite scoring opportunities with that first past out of the zone during defensive drills and has been looking forward to getting that skill on the ice.
Let’s hope that Bouchard can make this stick after a tough 14 months getting over his concussion problems.