While Wild's Jonas Brodin is out, opportunity knocks
ST. PAUL — Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin will miss three to four weeks after having surgery to repair a broken left hand, the team announced a few hours after practice Wednesday, Feb 7.
Brodin was injured midway through the second period of Tuesday's victory at St. Louis, slamming awkwardly into the boards. He appeared to favor his left hand before retreating to the bench.
Without Brodin, the Wild will turn to Gustav Olofsson and Mike Reilly, an enormous opportunity for defensemen that have spent the season rotating in and out of the lineup.
"I still think there's pressure to always play good," Olofsson said. "If you're not playing well, you're not going to play those minutes anyways. I've still got to have the same approach and worry about my game and make sure I'm helping out in anyway that I can."
"I'm excited to get back in and try to get in a good rhythm here and get back to the best of my ability," Reilly said. "It's a big opportunity. I'm looking forward to it."
Brodin is fourth among team defenseman with 15 points (5 goals, 10 assists) and, perhaps more important, he's as reliable as they come on the back end.
"It sucks," said defenseman Matt Dumba, Brodin's usual partner on the blue line. "To get him back to full strength and recover as fast as he can will be huge. In the meantime, Olofsson and Reilly and the rest of us will get some good minutes. Hopefully that will be really good, as well."
Olofsson has been compared to young Brodin based on the way he glides effortlessly up the ice while playing responsibly in both ends. They also both hail from Sweden, and even look a little similar to the naked eye.
As Dumba put it: "Take one Swede out, put one Swede in."
Reilly is more of an offensive threat but has struggled with his consistency. With Brodin out of the mix, he should get time on the power play right away.
Based on Wednesday's practice, it looks like the defensive pairings will feature Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon playing together as usual, with Olofsson and Dumba next and Reilly and Note Prosser rounding out the six-man rotation.
"We have been moving (Olofsson) and (Reilly) all season," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Now is their time to shine."
"When we rely on them more, they either excel or they fall flat on their face," the coach added. "We are hoping that they excel."