John Hynes calls Wild’s injury situation ‘a great challenge’

People good at what they do tend to embrace the opportunity to beat the odds, so rather than stew over his team’s luckless injury plight, John Hynes has been energized.

“I think it’s awesome.” the Wild head coach said Thursday. “I mean, it’s a great challenge.”

When the Wild play host to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center, they’ll do so without six regulars who are so critical to the team’s success, calling them key contributors undersells their importance.

Kirill Kaprizov and Jared Spurgeon were placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, and Marcus Foligno is day to day with a lower-body injury. Mats Zuccarello will miss his eighth game with an upper-body injury, and Jonas Brodin will miss his 11th with an upper-body injury. Filip Gustavsson, lower body, will be unavailable for a third straight game.

That group represents a lot of goals, assists, minutes, special teams shifts and goaltending victories that won’t be at Hynes’ disposal not just Thursday, but at least into next week.

“From a coaching standpoint, I think that’s what this league is about,” he said. “I think everyone that’s in it, coaches and players, are competitors, and it’s just another segment of the season you’ve gotta get through.”

The coach said the team feels the same way. Minor league call-ups such as Nic Petan, Jake Lucchini and Sammy Walker — and maybe goaltender Zane McIntyre — are getting NHL shifts, and some Wild regulars are getting their first chances to play higher in the lineup or on special teams.

“From that standpoint,” Hynes said, “I think that gives energy to the group.”

Injury updates

Spurgeon had a setback to a knee injury that already has kept him out of seven games, Hynes said. The team captain also missed the season’s first 14 games with an upper-body injury.

“I don’t have a hard timeline on it, but it’s wait and see to see how he responds to the treatment, because he was struggling to finish the game (Tuesday) night,” Hynes said. “Now we’re trying to see if we can get it to settle down so he can progress forward again.”

The team waited to see how Kaprizov responded to treatment before placing him on IR on Wednesday. The team’s points leader (13-21–34) was injured Dec. 30 by a cross check to his lower back from Winnipeg defenseman Brenden Dillon.

“I would say Kirill’s progressing,” the coach said. “The first step for him is the off-ice stuff — workouts and lifting and getting all those things in. But he’s progressing in a positive manner.”

Zuccarello participated in his second morning skate this week but remains unavailable. Brodin, out since taking a reckless hit from Evander Kane on Dec. 8 in Edmonton, skated for the first time on Thursday.

A different kind of loss

The Wild entered Thursday on a three-game skid, their first since a seven-game winless streak (0-5-2) that cost Dean Evason his job. But it’s different this time, rookie defenseman Brock Faber said.

“It’s a different type of loss, I think, than the start of the year,” the team’s minutes leader (24:41 TOI) said. “We were losing very convincingly, and it started to feel like if we were gonna win, it was going to be a lucky win. Now, we give ourselves a chance to win every night.”

The Wild were beaten fairly soundly by Winnipeg on Dec. 30, but their last two losses — 3-2 to the Jets and 3-1to Calgary — went down to the wire.

“I feel we could have definitely won both of those games. So, it’s definitely a different type of loss,” Faber said. “We have a lot better to give, but sometimes that’s just how it goes. There are ups and downs.”


Kaprizov, 26, was named an NHL all-star on Thursday. He is the first Wild player to make the all-star team in three consecutive seasons. … The Deweys are getting split up for the first time this season. Brandon Duhaime will play on the third line with Freddy Gaudreau and Pat Maroon, while Connor Dewar will stay on the fourth line with Lucchini and Walker.

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