With sweat still dripping from their foreheads after today’s Minnesota Wild morning skate, Stu Bickel and Jordan Schroeder sat in the visitor’s locker room at Xcel Energy Center, took off their gear, cleared out their stalls and packed their bags with drenched equipment. For hockey players on the bubble of making an NHL roster, it’s typically an unceremonious procedure signifying that they’ve been reassigned to the team’s minor league affiliate or placed on waivers.
However, for Bickel and Schroeder it meant they were moving to the Wild’s dressing room for the team’s fourth preseason game, tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In its fourth game of the preseason, the Minnesota Wild hosts the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow night at Xcel Energy Center.
Reigning NHL MVP Sidney Crosby is expected to make his preseason debut for the Penguins after missing the start of training camp with an undisclosed injury.
For Minnesota, Thomas Vanek is expected to make his home debut tomorrow. He returns to the lineup after being considered day-to-day with soreness.
Zach Parise took a maintenance day and didn’t practice on Sunday. He’s set to play tomorrow.
Goaltender Darcy Keumper is set to play the full game in net.
Here’s the Wild’s expected lineup. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo will have to make a decision on the fourth line:
The Wild had a new addition today at training camp, presented by Andersen Windows, high above the ice surface at Xcel Energy Center.
The arena’s new behemoth of a center ice video scoreboard was unveiled at a Wild Season Ticket Holder event last night and was lit up today, as it ran through a number of tests during the team’s first practice sessions. For the Lighthouse, the RGB color sequence testing was a bit distracting (we left our sunglasses in our glove box), but Nino Niederreiter said the team was focused and didn’t notice the continuous blasts of red, green and blue.
The Minnesota Wild skates at home for the first time this preseason on Saturday at 7 p.m., hosting the Winnipeg Jets. It is the second meeting of the preseason between the two teams, with the Jets taking the first contest, 2-1, in Winnipeg on Monday.
Here's the complete roster for Saturday:
The Minnesota Wild will take a much more veteran lineup to its second preseason game tomorrow night. But before traveling to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins, the Wild held a special-teams specific practice today at Xcel Energy Center.
The power play is something that the club could improve upon from a season ago. Last year, the Wild ranked 16th (17.9 percent) in the National Hockey League. Minnesota Head Coach Mike Yeo thought the team was strong at even strength, but to get to the next level, needs to make progress on the PP.
The Minnesota Wild will travel with 22 players to Pittsburgh for its second preseason game, tomorrow against the Penguins.
Here is the list of players making the trip:
The Wild can dress six defenseman and 12 forwards, so two players on the list will not dress tomorrow night. Kuemper is expected to play two periods, while Bryzgalov is set to play one.
With limited amount of practice time leading into the team’s first and second preseason games (up next is the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Thursday), Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo continues to include game-like situations in the sessions. At today’s practice, the team went through a number of five-on-five situational drills in each zone.
Straight from the locker room, here's tomorrow's lineup for the Wild's first preseason game of the 2014-15 season against Winnipeg at 7 p.m. central.
Thirty five hundred people came to Saturday’s open practice, while another 1,100 ran their hearts out in an outdoor race for the Minnesota Wild Foundation, and fans bought tickets as fast as the Xcel Energy Center Box Office could print them. All before noon.
So it’s no surprise that ESPN the Magazine confirmed this week what we’ve known all along — the Xcel Energy Center, Home of the Home Ice Advantage, has the No. 1 stadium experience in the entire NHL.
Thank you Wild fans for helping to make this happen. Make sure you get to experience it this season!
The magazine’s yearly rankings are out, and the Wild’s stadium experience trails only the San Francisco Giants, Memphis Grizzlies and Green Pay Packers in all of pro sports in North America.
The Wild ranks 24th overall amongst 122 pro teams, in categories such as “Bang for Your Puck”, Fan Relations, Ownership, Affordability, Coaching, Players and Title Track. The Wild jumped 26 spots, having ranked 50th at this time last season.
Your favorite NHL team also ranks 12th in fan relations, 15th in ownership and 17th in players amongst teams from all sports. The Wild also has the third best ranking in the NHL in the player category, behind only Chicago and Detroit.
The full ESPN the Magazine rankings can be found here.
On the first day of Wild training camp, presented by Andersen Windows, groups A and B were scrimmaging. With time winding down and his team trailing by a pair of goals, Thomas Vanek, skating for the Group B team, threw the puck on net. It hit traffic in front and bounced into the top corner of the net. While it wasn’t the prettiest goal Vanek has ever scored, it was a good introduction to the team.
The Wild signed Vanek, who has 277 career goals, as a free agent in the summer to add offensive punch to a team that averaged 2.43 goals per game last season. Today, he was skating on a line with Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle. Although it will take the trio some time to get to know each other on the ice, the Wild captain was impressed with what he saw in his newest teammate.