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Wild Vs. Blue Jackets: Mikko Koivu Could Return As Minnesota Faces Columbus

The Wild head to Columbus looking to make it three straight wins over the lowly Blue Jackets.

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 12: Mikko Koivu #9 of the Minnesota Wild advances the puck ahead of Jimmy Hayes #39 of the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on January 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 12: Mikko Koivu #9 of the Minnesota Wild advances the puck ahead of Jimmy Hayes #39 of the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on January 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Wild have erased questions about whether or not they could survive without Mikko Koivu.

Anymore the question is, What to do with Koivu now that he’s ready to return?

Koivu has missed seven straight games with a shoulder injury sustained in a Jan. 14 contest against the Blues. Koivu led the Wild with 33 points when he went down, and the Wild proceeded to score just four goals as they dropped three straight games.

Since then, though, Minnesota is 3-2, including a pair of road wins at Colorado. Now that Koivu is ready (or nearly ready) to return to the ice, the what-to-do-with-Koivu? question has taken center stage.

The Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press each ran stories Monday about how Koivu’s former line has been thriving in his absence, and how reinserting him might mess up team chemistry.

As the Pioneer Press points out, Dany Heatley has scored four goals and has four assists in the past five games, helping him surpass Koivu as the Wild's top scorer. Kyle Brodziak, too, is on a tear, having recorded a point in a career-high six straight games.

The Star Tribune quotes Wild coach Mike Yeo saying,

"Certainly, this is something that we would have to look into if Mikko were to come back on Tuesday. That line is playing really well….No. 1, we have to find a way to make sure that Brodzy and Johnny keep playing at the level that they’re at, and Heater as well.

"But we have to make sure that when we're making these decisions that we give Mikko a good chance to come in and have the type of impact that he's capable of."

Minnesota, which has beaten the Blue Jackets twice already this season, takes the ice at 6 p.m. Central. Fox Sports will carry the game.

For more on the Minnesota Wild, check out Hockey Wilderness. You can also head over to SB Nation’s main NHL hub at SBNation.com/NHL.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.