At Friday’s morning skate ahead of the evening matchup against the Arizona Coyotes, a couple of long-missed Minnesota Wild players were seen taking line rushes for the first time in a while: forwards Ryan Hartman and Marcus Johansson.
Ryan Hartman appears cleared to return; in #mnwild morning skate— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) March 12, 2021
Marcus Johansson skating, too— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) March 12, 2021
Hartman has been out of the lineup with a lower-body injury since March 1st, when he left a game early against the Vegas Golden Knights. Johansson hasn’t been seen on the ice since February 18th when he sustained an upper-body injury against the Anaheim Ducks.
The Wild put a scare into reporters and fans during morning skate, assigning Johansson to go on line rushes with Jordan Greenway and Joel Eriksson Ek, leading some to speculate that there might be something wrong with forward Marcus Foligno, who has been on fire recently with eight points in his last six games. But head coach Dean Evason calmed everyone down in his post-practice presser, informing those present that Foligno is fine and will play tonight against the Yotes.
What the Wild do with Johansson is yet to be determined, though he’ll most assuredly slot into the fourth line - if he sees the ice at all. Johansson has only two goals and one assist in 11 games played this season, and hasn’t really been missed during the Wild’s 9-2-1 run over their last 12 games. Nick Bonino (1 goal and 1 assist in his last 11) could be a candidate to spend some time in the press box when Johansson returns, as could Victor Rask, who has cooled significantly after a six point in five game stretch he enjoyed in February.
Hartman, on the other hand, will make a welcome return to the Wild lineup, bringing his defensive and shot-blocking game back to the ice while also looking to get his February groove back when he had two goals and four assists over a four-game stretch.