The day before the Minnesota Wild’s season opener against the Colorado Avalanche at 8 p.m. Saturday, the club was on the ice for a short practice.
After tweaking his groin in Wednesday’s Intra-Squad Scrimmage, defenseman Tom Gilbert was back skating and is expected to be ready to start the season tomorrow. With Gilbert bringing the Wild’s number of healthy defensemen to six, Matt Dumba, the Wild’s first-pick in the 2012 Draft, is unlikely to make his NHL debut tomorrow night. Jonas Brodin, who has missed several weeks with an upper body injury, was paired with Dumba at today’s skate and the Swede was reassinged to Houston today.
Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo told the media tomorrow night’s lineup should be as expected, with Matt Kassian the forward out. However, Yeo acknowledge the lineup is subject to change depending on whom the Avs roll out onto the ice.
Probable lines and D-pairs are:
Parise – Koivu – Heatley
Cullen – Granlund – Setoguchi
Bouchard – Brodziak – Clutterbuck
Mitchell – Konopka – Powe
Suter – Spurgeon
Gilbert – Stoner
Falk – Prosser
With only six days for clubs to prepare, Yeo believes the early advantage will go to team defense rather than team offense. On the ice, the Wild’s bench boss could be heard giving directions to defensive zone details like players keeping their sticks aligned with the puck and in order to cut down on passing and shooting lanes.
Tom Gilbert told WildTV he believes that with a long layoff, attention to detail would be important and repetition regarding the finer points of the game is key in the early going. However, the Wild will not have much time to concentrate on the small stuff in practice, as the team jumps right into the swing of things with three games in four nights, all at home.
At the end of practice, the Wild had a score-you-stay elimination shootout today, with Kyle Brodziak outwitting, outplaying and outlasting his teammates.
After the skate, WildTV spoke with Zach Parise and Dumba about the start of the NHL season and Hockey Day Minnesota. Check out the Wild’s Hockey Day Minnesota page for stories from around the State of Hockey.
The Minnesota Wild will submit its opening night roster later today, so if there are any surprises, the Lighthouse will keep you posted. Nick Palmieri, Jake Dowell and Stephane Veilleux all cleared waivers today and were reassigned to the Houston Aeros.
Off the ice, Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck will receive the Outstanding Ally Award from PFLAG Twin Cities, a nonprofit that promotes the health and well being of the GLBT community, their families and friends. Last season, Clutterbuck was one of the first NHLers to team up the You Can Play Project, an organization “dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.”
Way, way off the ice, the Wall Street Journal posted a story about the estimated distance every NHL team will travel this season. The news outlet estimates the Wild will travel 31,273 miles. The Wild’s mileage total nearly doubles that of half the Eastern Conference. Yeo has talked a lot about planning for rest for the players, but what about the rest for the Lighthouse? Catnaps between posts will be key—better invest in a neck pillow and noise cancelling headphones.