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After nine-game absence, Ballard returns to Wild lineup

Nov 27, 2013, 5:14 PM EDT

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Keithballard Getty Images

Keith Ballard will return from his second significant injury of the season on Wednesday, playing for the first time in nine games as the Wild host the Coyotes in Minnesota.

The 31-year-old rearguard last played on Nov. 5 in a 5-1 win over Calgary before being sidelined by an upper-body injury. That development was a tough one for the Minnesota native, as Ballard had only just returned from a seven-game absence (concussion) on Nov. 1.

Ballard has been somewhat effective for the Wild this year when healthy. He has four assists and a plus-6 rating in nine games, and logged a season-high 19:46 TOI in a 4-0 win over New Jersey on Nov. 3.

Problem is, he’s missed 16 of Minnesota’s 25 games this year and hasn’t been able to establish a consistent presence in the lineup.

In other Wild news, Jason Zucker has been reassigned to AHL Iowa, paving the way for Torrey Mitchell to get back into the lineup. Mitchell hasn’t played since Nov. 19 after suffering a hip injury in Montreal.

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