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.
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.
Wild.com is streaming live on Saturday, Sept. 20 from the Wild’s Open Practice at training camp, presented by Andersen Windows.
The live stream will start broadcasting around 9:30 a.m., and run for about an hour. Radio Studio Host Kevin Falness and Television Analyst Mike Greenlay will call the action, and the Lighthouse might chime in for a couple of comments, too.
Today, the team is participating in the annual media day before taking the ice for the start of training camp tomorrow.
Ilya Bryzgalov has been invited to Wild training camp on a pro tryout. He’s expected to be on the ice when camp opens Friday.
This brings the number of players invited to camp to 57.
Today, the Minnesota Wild was on the ice for the final day of informal captains’ practices. While scrimmaging against your teammates is fun, the real good time happened yesterday at the team’s corporate golf outing at Troy Burne Golf Club.
Hockey players are known to be good golfers, and throw in their competitive nature, the scores would be low and close. However, no one could’ve guessed that the round would end in three teams tying with scores of 57 (par is 71).
According to sources, there was some confusion as to what constituted as the tiebreaker. The team that included Matt Cooke and Wild owner Craig Leipold ended up in first place. Not a shocker: the ruling, in favor of the veteran and Wild’s big boss, went undisputed.
“We had a good group of guys,” Jason Pominville said. “The golfing was okay, nothing crazy, but we had a lot of fun.”
When we asked Pominville who the worst golfer on the team was, he responded, “We’re asking those kind of questions?” with a smile before recognizing Mikael Granlund. Even if the Finn isn’t the most adept player on the team with a sand wedge, he dressed the part, decked out in Iron Range Red. The Lighthouse asked Pominville a follow up: if he looked like the Kool Aid Man? This elicited no response.
The day was all in good fun, even for those who are much better with hockey sticks than golf clubs. Admittedly not much of a golfer, Coyle approached the round like he does everything, with a smile on his face.
“It was a fun day, it was perfect out, but our team came in last,” Coyle lamented. He quickly took turned more optimistic, “But we’re working towards next year.”
There were some positives (besides their score) for Coyle. The team was awarded gift certificates for their subpar (or was it over par?) efforts.
“It’s probably for some golf tips or something we need,” Coyle cracked.
WildTV sent a motion picture camera to capture the action and fans can keep an eye out for a Becoming Wild webisode from the event.
This is a good time to remind everyone the groundbreaking series, Becoming Wild, presented by Toyota, returns to FOX Sports North for its fourth season. Episode 1 will follow Jonas Brodin to his native Sweden and air on Friday, Sept. 19 after Twins coverage on FSN.
Jared Spurgeon was partnered up with Brodin during the tourney at Troy Burne.
“We put together a couple of good shots,” Spurgeon said. “It was a nice day to get out there and play an awesome course and it was a lot of fun.”
Unfortunately, the House bricked and failed to ask Spurgeon about Brodin’s skills on the links. Spurgeon will be featured in a Becoming Wild episode on Tuesday, Nov. 4 after Minnesota’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
A WildTV video featuring the Coyle, Pominville and Spurgeon interviews can be found here.
Wild Invite 56
The club announced that 56 players have been invited to attend Wild training camp. See the story, here, and see the full roster, here.
Training Camp Media Guide
Our friends in the Wild PR department help keep the flow of information, well, flowing. Today, they posted a PDF of the team’s Training Camp Guide at wild.com/TrainingCampGuide. Check it out. It is filled with all kinds of tidbits about your favorite Wild players. Memorize it and you might just know as much about the Wild as the Lighthouse.
Speaking of training camp, if you’re planning on attending the Wild’s Open Practice on Saturday, Sept. 20, there will be a lot of events happening that day. For tips on parking in Saint Paul that day, go here.
Two Wild players had exciting summers, albeit for very different reasons. Both experienced life-changing events, which also signified where they are in their respective lifetimes.
“It was a fun time for myself and my family and friends,” Koivu said. “There was a lot of planning…the first half of the summer was a little busier.”
Koivu said that there are a few differences in a Finnish wedding, but things are pretty much the same as here: church and reception afterwards. After the wedding bliss, it was back to work.
“After (the wedding) it was the usual,” Koivu said.
The usual consists of the typical hockey player’s offseason regiment of working out, conditioning and on-ice skill work. Of course, Koivu’s home life this offseason was a little different, he and his wife, Helena, had a baby girl last year during season. With his new family in tow, he’s ready to start Wild training camp and the 2014-15 regular season.
“The last week or two, it’s a lot of waiting, and mentally you’d like to get there already,” Koivu said. “We’re excited and can’t wait to get it going.”
For Niederreiter, he exchanged wedding photos for another kind of glamour shot, as the cover boy on the Swiss release of NHL 15.
“It was a great honor,” Niederreiter said. “Mark Streit was on the cover and then Roman Josi and now I’m fortunate enough to be on the cover.
“It’s a cool thing.”
Niederreiter said he’s played the game a few times, but he’s not a video-game fanatic. He prefers to spend his time outdoors, and coming from the Swiss Alps (yes, the Lighthouse has seen The Sound of Music), who can blame him?
Clearly, the video game cover was a thrill for him, but the bigger event came with re-signing with Minnesota. On Sept. 11, the Wild and Niederreiter came to terms on a three-year contract.
“It was a long summer with a lot of thinking and going back and forth, but at the end of the day I’m very happy the deal got done and I’m happy to be here,” Niederreiter said.
After showing significant signs of potential during the regular season and a breakout playoff performance, including the series-clinching goal in Game 7 in the first round against the Colorado Avalanche, Niederreiter wants to build on his first year in the State of Hockey.
“I’m still very young and I still have to learn a lot about League and about the team,” Niederreiter said. “So I’m (going into camp) to make a new impression and play my best hockey.
“I feel like every year, the longer you play in the League, the more you have to improve yourself. This year is very important for me. I feel like I had a good season last year, but this year I want to make it a great season.”