Typically, when the Lighthouse references the phrase “goaltending duel” it is a confrontation between opposing netminders making body-contorting saves in a mano-a-mano showdown, leaving a pile of frustrated shooters shaking their heads in their wake.
However for the Minnesota Wild, the goaltending duel was a showdown during training camp for the team’s game one starter, an open competition between Darcy Kuemper and Niklas Backstrom. Coming into camp, both had things to prove for very different reasons.
When the Minnesota Wild brought NHL hockey back to Minnesota, Ryan Carter was a student at White Bear Lake High School. While the team was on the road, he’d stay up late after his own practices and games and watch televised Wild games, kind of like a hockey study hall. While observing more pro hockey was beneficial for his game, the late-night hockey cramming might’ve had an adverse impact in the actual classroom.
“My grades in high school probably weren’t as good as they should’ve been because I stayed up late watching the West Coast games back in 2000, 2001,” Carter joked.
The media poured into the Minnesota Wild locker room after practice and flooded around defenseman Matt Dumba. On the day that the team’s final training camp roster cuts were announced, reporters were intent on getting a few words with the rookie, who was one of the players fighting for a roster spot. As the moat of cameras and microphones surrounded Dumba, they spilled in front of the stall of his defensive partner from today, fellow first-year blueliner, Christian Folin. While Dumba was asked about making the team, Folin sat as calm as still water across the room in Nino Neiderreiter’s stall until a lane was cleared so he could hang his equipment and field questions himself.
With the Minnesota Wild's preseason in the books, the club has made a number of roster moves.
The Wild has placed forwards Cody Almond and Stephane Veilleux on waivers. The team also assigned forwards Joel Rechlicz and Kurtis Gabriel to the Iowa Wild, Minnesota's American Hockey League affiliate.
The club has released goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov from his pro tryout.
Minnesota has placed forward Justin Fontaine on Injured Reserve, retroactive to Sept. 27. Fontaine is out with a lower-body injury.
For a National Hockey League head coach, his club’s initial training camp roster probably looks a lot like a block of marble appears to a sculptor. There is a general idea, but lines and defensive parings are formed, and players emerge to contend for a spot in the lineup. As the camp goes on players are shed like layers of rock, assigned back to the minors or junior teams, and the team begins to take shape.
Today, the Minnesota Wild opening night lineup took a little more shape as the team reduced its training camp roster to 27. Minnesota assigned D Jonathon Blum, D Justin Falk, F Tyler Graovac, F Michael Keranen, F Zack Phillips, D Gustav Olofsson and F Joel Rechlicz to the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League (AHL) and placed Curt Gogol and Brett Sutter on waivers with the intent to assign them to Iowa.
Fans came down to the glass and took selfies with him — so many in fact there was a line during the third period.
“Fans came to have some fun,” Bryzgalov said. “I’ve got to respect it.”
For the players fighting for the few remaining roster spots at Minnesota Wild training camp, tomorrow night’s game in St. Louis will be like a final exam. But with the completion tougher than advanced calculus, players on the bubble will need more than passing marks to make the club’s opening night roster.
“The grades in that one are going to count a little more than the start of the year,” Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said. “We will evaluate everything as a whole, but what we’re looking for is progress.”
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.