The Wild’s lineup for tomorrow night’s preseason game against the St. Louis Blues at Xcel Energy Center will look a lot like a midseason lineup. The top three lines will be out there, and Cody Almond will center Brad Staubitz and Robbie Earl on the fourth line.
The only regular forwards that won’t be out there are Eric Nystrom and Kyle Brodziak. The defensemen will be Cam Barker, Clayton Stoner, Nick Schultz, Brent Burns, Marco Scandella and Justin Falk. Greg Zanon and Marek Zidlicky will not play tomorrow.
Zidlicky was practicing again today, but they’ll hold him out of tomorrow’s lineup to give his hamstring a little more rest. Everyone other than Pierre-Marc Bouchard took part in today’s lengthy, two-session practice. It appears that there won’t be a rubber match this year between Team Green and Team White. They’ll have to be happy with a season series split.
As for Bouchard, he skated on his own again today prior to the team’s practice. Todd Richards said everything still looks good, and “If (Head Athletic Therapist) Don Fuller doesn’t walk to my office, that’s a good thing.” So far, no visits from Doc. Still, Richards and Bouchard haven’t had any conversations about when he’ll return to practice with the team.
There wasn’t much else from today. All of the players took part in a mandatory meeting regarding drug testing. Later today, Barker, Bouchard and Zanon will be delivering Wild tickets to season ticket holders.
Oh, and don’t forget about the first Hockey Unplugged of the season tonight. Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle Brodziak will be the featured guests of host Kevin Falness. The event is at Two Stooges in Fridley, beginning at 7:00 p.m.
That’s it for today. It’s game day tomorrow, so get some rest.
It’s all downhill for the Wild players now. Tomorrow, they get to do what they were born to do — skate on a frozen ice sheet. Today was the tough part.
After taking physicals bright and early, every player had to go through fitness testing at Xcel Energy Center. Once they were sweaty and tired, they were herded from station to station for headshot photos, full gear photos, on-camera interviews and questionnaires. It’s safe to say they’re glad it’s over.
The players will stay off the rink today, but most will be on the rink tomorrow. I say most because Pierre-Marc Bouchard will not be among them. The good news is he will be going to the doctor tomorrow looking to get cleared to play. Bouchard went through the media day wringer and he looked very upbeat.
While the players were downstairs in the bowels of the arena, the Wild brass was upstairs at the Iron Range Grill for the media luncheon. Todd Richards was the host, and Kevin Falness has provided this audio from Todd.
A couple other items of note: Peter Best will be at the Wild’s practice tomorrow to present his Niklas Backstrom with his new mask for the 2010-2011 season. Mask artist Todd Miska said the finished product is drying today and will be ready for the presentation tomorrow. We’re not sure when Backstrom will debut the mask, but it may be tomorrow or Sunday.
And speaking of Sunday, don’t forget that day will be an open scrimmage at Xcel Energy Center open to the public. The doors open at 10:00 a.m. with the scrimmage starting at 10:30 a.m. Those of you who can’t make it can still watch the scrimmage via live streaming on your favorite website, Wild.com.
As a special treat, Falness will be knocking out the play-by-play. I think he’s getting pretty cocky about it, because I saw him down at media day and he had the top three buttons of his shirt undone. It was a little too Hasselhoff for my taste, but hey, it’s hockey season. We’ll let it slide.
Wild players were actually on the Xcel Energy Center ice today, getting in some skating drills followed by a game of shinny. Included in that game: Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
I got down to the rink shortly before the scrimmage ended so I only saw Bouchard skate one shift. He seemed to be moving at a good clip, but that’s obviously not the issue. The concern is when the contact drills start, and we won’t see any contact in these informal skates.
On Wild.com today, I took a shot at previewing what the Wild lines will look like, at least at the start of camp. Here’s the lines I saw today, but obviously it was pretty jumbled, considering there are several players that haven’t shown up yet, and I don’t think guys were too concerned about who they were skating with.
Cullen – Miettinen – Koivu
Gillies – Madden – Clutterbuck
Staubitz – Bouchard – Warren Peters
Brunette – Brodziak – Latendresse
Kobasew – Nystrom
Jon DiSalvatore – Earl – Matt Kassian
As a reminder, you can see all these guys and more in action on Sunday, September 19 during an open scrimmage from 10 a.m. to noon. Fans can enter Gate 1 starting at 10 a.m., with the scrimmage getting under way at 10:30 a.m.
As of now, the Wild has 35 players on its camp roster, and only one tryout player – goaltender Josh Tordjman. He was with San Antonio of the AHL last year, posting a 20-22-2 record with a 2.96 GAA and a .902 save percentage.
There will likely be more, as the Wild will add players from the Traverse City Tournament roster, which by the way, is undefeated through two games.