ST. PAUL -- Marcus Foligno was back on the ice for a brief practice on Thanksgiving Day, and while he wasn't ready for the Minnesota Wild's Friday matinee against the Ottawa Senators, he is nearing a return to action.
“I feel like I have the green light,” Foligno said. “Just want to get a little bit more practice under my belt. I think Sunday’s game (against the Dallas Stars) is the goal right now.”
Added coach Bruce Boudreau: “He’s getting close, but he’s not close enough yet. I’m hoping that he’s on the upcoming road trip. That’s my hope. Let’s see where it goes.”
After Sunday, the Wild play at Florida on Tuesday, Tampa Bay on Thursday and Carolina on Saturday.
Whenever the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Foligno is back in the lineup it will provide a boost for the Wild. He was playing arguably his best hockey in Minnesota before suffering a lower-body injury during a No. 7 loss at San Jose. He also has become an unquestioned team leader, and the Wild have missed his voice in the locker room.
“It’s tough,” Foligno said. “It’s even worse when the guys are on the road and I’m by myself. That’s the most trying part of it. It’s a little bit lonely. You’re kind of just coming to the rink by yourself.”
In that sense, Foligno was excited to practice on Thursday, even if it delayed Thanksgiving plans.
“It’s nice to see the guys back and get on the ice with them and kind of share some laughs — just feeling part of it again,” he said.
It also helps that the Wild have been playing well during a seven-game points streak (4-0-3).
“I thought the boys played really well (on the East Coast),” Foligno said. “You can kind of see us coming together now. It’s good to see. For myself, I just want to jump in and add to it.”
As crazy as it sounds, the Wild have clawed back into the playoff race, giving themselves a puncher’s chance moving forward.
“I told the guys not to look at the standings and just look at how they were playing and eventually things will take care of themselves,” Boudreau said. “If you go into my office there’s a big sign that says, ‘If you can believe it, it can happen.’ I’ve always believed it.”
“We have dug ourselves out of a big hole,” he added, “but just digging ourselves out of a big hole isn’t what we want to do; we want to fill it in and go from there.”
Setback for Pateryn
It’s unclear how much additional time defenseman Greg Pateryn will miss after suffering a setback in his recovery from sports hernia surgery.
“I don’t think it’s long-term,” Boudreau said. “He just felt something, so he just needs a little more time.”
In the meantime, fellow defenseman Carson Soucy — a pleasant surprise this season — will continue to eat up those minutes on the blue line.