As Matt Dumba walked down the tunnel at TCF Bank Stadium back to the Minnesota Wild's locker room, he had a message for the media lined up in the hallways.
"Ray Lewis," Dumba said as he walked by.
It was an explanation for the optical design painted below Dumba's optics. He was one of many Wild players to don eye black on Saturday when the Wild practiced at TCF Bank Stadium to prepare for the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series Game.
The Minnesota Wild has played a certain way in its past three games under interim Head Coach John Torchetti that led to three victories.
There's also a certain way it feels it has to play against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday in the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, but those two things aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.
"We'll have to make our adjustments like we do every other game," Torchetti said. "If the ice is chippy, or it's windy, just make the adjustments as we go. You can't really have a set plan."
And Dumba and Scandella each realized they had something in common: neither player's family would be able to attend the event.
Needing some guests to invite, the duo decided on turning to Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, and Children's Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota, after visiting earlier this year, and seeing firsthand the kind of impact they can make.
A pair of individuals from the Minnesota Wild will be pulling double duty over the course of the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series weekend at TCF Bank Stadium.
Andrew Brunette and Darby Hendrickson, assistant coaches for the Wild, will coach the NHL squad’s practice on Saturday afternoon at the outdoor rink, prior to lacing up their skates and donning North Stars sweaters for the alumni game at 4 pm.
“It’s going to be a crazy weekend,” Brunette said. “You’re helping run a practice on Saturday then get in your gear and play in a game, and still prepare for Sunday’s game.”
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.