A mask, and its design, can represent a goalie's identity. Devan Dubnyk's newly painted helmet that he'll wear on Sunday for the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series tells the story of a hockey player, a father, a son, and a newly minted Minnesotan.
Beginning on the left temple sits the giraffe, a constant character on Dubnyk's mask, his childhood nickname. It wears a Viking helmet, a call-out to the Minnesota connection Dubnyk has forged in his 13 months in the State of Hockey.
Continuing across the front, a treasure map-like white scripture sits neatly on the chin, garnished with a red wild logo.
RICHFIELD – A day prior to the Alumni Game, the appetizer for the 2016 Stadium Series, former Minnesota North Stars and Wild players gathered for a final practice before taking on the Chicago Blackhawks alumni.
Having practiced a handful of times prior, the pace on Friday in the group's final tune-up was as high as it's been.
"The pace is four-times faster," Wes Walz said. "Not that it's anywhere close to an NHL pace, but we're going to have a lot of fun, try to put a show on for the fans, and see where it goes."
EDMONTON – When Mike Reilly arrives on the campus of the University of Minnesota on Sunday for the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, he'll have some decisions to make.
With game-time temperatures projected around 40 degrees, layering up won't be Reilly's chief concern. The forecast calls for mostly cloudy conditions, probably eliminating the need for eye black, unless worn as an accessory.
But for Reilly, who was one of the premier college hockey players during his four years at the University of Minnesota, what to eat is a legitimate question.
EDMONTON – There's a contagious habit making its way through the Minnesota Wild locker room. And no, it's not a reference to the Wild's three-game winning streak, but that is one of its symptoms.
"What a different feeling," Darcy Kuemper said after backstopping the Wild to a 5-2 victory on Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers. "It's nice to see the smiles on everyone's faces again, and having some fun coming to the rink. It makes it a lot easier."
The frustration and sorrow that was the Wild's postgame has gone in the way of a giddy energy of a team reestablishing its confidence, and earning some points in the standings.
It’s finally here! It’s time for the 2016 Coors Light Stadium Series in Minnesota, and we don’t want you to miss out on anything. Check out the timeline of events for this weekend, and be sure to stop by and celebrate with the rest of the State of Hockey.
Saturday, Feb. 20
Expected Weather: High: 48, Low: 33
Mostly Cloudy, 10% Precipitation, WNW 10 mph
CALGARY – For how well the Minnesota Wild has played at even-strength of late, and how much the Calgary Flames' games have been decided on special teams, there's no secret to how many players the Wild would like to be on the ice on Wednesday.
"No matter who you're playing against, you want to make sure you're staying out of the box," Jason Zucker said. "If we can stay at one or two penalties a night, you're going to have a higher success level."
The Flames have scored six power-play goals in their past three games, with two, three-goal games on its power play.
VANCOUVER – There are plenty of superstitions in hockey, but that of interim Head Coach John Torchetti may be the quirkiest even by most standards.
"Is that different?" Torchetti asked after leading the Wild to a 5-2 win in his first game coaching. "It's to get me going. I've just always done it as a player, and as a coach. That's my only superstition, so I have to keep it."
The Wild's bench was high-energy on Monday, noticeably so in the eyes of Torchetti's players. It began with the new coach's superstition, taking a whiff of smelling salts, indicative of the pace and intensity Torchetti would maintain for the next 60 minutes as the Wild ended an eight-game losing streak.
Like many Minnesotans, the students at Como Park Elementary can tell you a thing or two about hockey.
What makes these youngsters different is what they tell you: They want to talk about composite materials to create ideal flexion of the stick; the geometry of a perfect banked pass off the boards; they’ll volunteer new ideas about pad design or maybe look at trends in their data analysis.
And they’ll tell you about it with a sense of passion and ownership.
VANCOUVER – April 17, 2006 was the last time John Torchetti stood behind an NHL bench in an interim head-coaching role.
His Los Angeles Kings defeated the San Jose Sharks, 4-0. It was the end of a 12-game spell in which he was the bench boss for Los Angeles.
Nearly a decade later, Torchetti will walk out of the tunnel on Monday night at Rogers Arena, again a head coach, exactly the position he's always wanted to find himself back in.
VANCOUVER – With a new head coach, the Minnesota Wild will look to end an eight-game losing streak against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Monday.
John Torchetti, previously the head coach of the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League, took over in Minnesota in an interim role on Saturday.
While the Wild is under new leadership, the situation it finds itself in is unchanged, and the players said they know they'll be the most responsible for a potential turnaround.