Neither Niklas Backstrom nor Keith Ballard cared to waste any energy on frustration or self-pity. Backstrom, the Wild goalie, was inching his way through the uncertain aftermath of a concussion after taking a nasty hit earlier this month. Ballard, who has been sidelined for all but nine games this season, was eager to recover from an upper-body injury and resume his place among the Wild’s defensive corps. Both focused all their attention on healing, and that helped them rejoin the Wild for Friday’s practice in Winnipeg. Though neither is expected to play Saturday against the Jets, their presence on the ice at MTS Centre had coach Mike Yeo smiling on a bitterly cold day. Yeo said Backstrom looked quick, slick and “really good’’ in his first practice since his injury on Nov. 13, and he added that Ballard is “not far off’’ from getting into the lineup again. Josh Harding is expected to start in goal Saturday. Backstrom took plenty of shots in Friday’s workout and was in good spirits afterward, following several days of slowly working his way back from what he said was his first concussion. “It felt pretty good. We’ll see how it goes,’’ Backstrom said. “Today was probably the toughest day, when you skate with the guys for a full skate. So we’ll see how everything feels after this. “This is my first one, so I didn’t know what to think or how you should feel or what’s going on. It’s easier when you have a broken bone or whatever; they tell you it takes two weeks for you to heal. But with concussions, you never know what’s going to happen.’’ Backstrom didn’t want to offer an opinion on the hit by Toronto’s Nazem Kadri that injured him and earned Kadri a three-game suspension. Instead of stewing, he chose to focus on his recovery — just as Ballard chose not to sulk after his latest injury. Six games into the season, Ballard suffered a concussion and sat out for seven games. He returned in early November, played three games and was again sidelined because of a different upper-body injury. Though Ballard had been playing very well during his abbreviated stints, he has refused to lament his bad fortune while missing seven more games.
Backstrom, Ballard practice but not expected to play for Wild in Winnipeg
Minneapolis Star Tribune | Nov 23