Wild get good news on injured stars Joel Eriksson Ek and Jonas Brodin

After getting dismantled Wednesday in a key matchup at Los Angeles, the Wild needed some good news on Friday and they got it.

Joel Eriksson Ek, Minnesota top-line center and second-leading scorer, went through an entire practice at TRIA Rink and could play in Saturday afternoon’s game against the St. Louis Blues at Xcel Energy Center.

Eriksson Ek suffered a lower body injury in a 4-1 victory over Arizona on March 12 and has missed the past four games, a major blow for a team hanging on to slim postseason hopes with 12 regular-season games remaining.

“He’s made significant progress,” coach John Hynes said. “I’m not sure about (Saturday), but obviously he was out there with a full practice. We want to make sure that when he gets back, he’s truly ready to get going.”

Eriksson Ek has 29 goals and 60 points, and is tied with Kirill Kaprizov for a team-high 12 power play goals. After Saturday, the Wild don’t play again until Thursday against San Jose at the X, the second of six straight home games.

“If Ek for some reason did not go (Saturday),” Hynes said, “I would anticipate after those four days it’s a possibility.”

Thursday also could mark the return of Jonas Brodin, the Wild’s shutdown defenseman who was lost late in a 4-0 victory Tuesday at Anaheim when Ducks winger Alex Killorn threw him to the ice. Brodin’s right leg was stuck awkwardly beneath him as he fell and he hasn’t played since.

Brodin did not practice Friday.

“Brodin will not be in (Saturday), but good signs,” Hynes said. “It looks like it should be fairly short order here with him.”

Those are two important developments for a Wild team that entered Friday five points out of the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot, and a point behind St. Louis for ninth place. This will be Minnesota’s third head-to-head matchup with the Blues in three weeks; they went 1-0-1 in the first two, both in St. Louis.

The Wild have been playing a long series of biggest games of the year for the better part of a month, and generally playing well — 12-5-2 since they returned from the all-star break Feb. 7. In all that time, Hynes has refurbished to label any a game a must-win, and he stuck to that on Friday.

“We deal with our team differently. I think it’s important,” he said.

Instead, Hynes breaks the season into 10-game segments and sets a bar for how many of the possible 20 points the team can earn. That’s why Wednesday’s 6-0 loss at Los Angeles, a team the Wild are chasing for a wild card spot, wasn’t the end of the world for Minnesota.

“None of us were happy with the game, but I think it’s (about) managing — the urgency we need to be able to play with, taking the lessons out of it, but making sure we’re ready to play the game the right way,” Hynes said “I think when you have that mindset, that’s been good for our group.

“The last two 10-game segments, we’ve had 15 and 14 points. If you look at that point total, and you put that into another 10 games and then you have three at the end, you’re looking around that 96-, 97-point total. We’ve gotta stay with it.”

The Blues are in the same boat, one point closer than the Wild to Vegas for the second wild card spot, and like Hynes has done with his team, St. Louis interim coach Drew Bannister is discouraging him team from watching the scoreboard.

“We’ve just got to take care of our own business and not worry about what other teams are going to do,” Bannister told reporters Friday after an afternoon practice at TRIA. “We’ve got to make sure that we win our hockey games, or at least get as many points as we can moving forward here. … We’ve got to keep our heads on straight and worry about our hockey game.”


Hynes said the coaching staff was still discussing whether Filip Gustavsson or Marc-Andre Fleury would start in net Saturday against the Blues. Puck drop is set for 1 p.m.

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