With Hockey Day Minnesota getting off to an unofficial start this evening as the Gophers host rival North Dakota, the Wild is ready to open the 2013 season Saturday night at 8 p.m. against the Northwest Division rival Colorado Avalanche.
It'll be the nightcap to Hockey Day on Fox Sports North.
We have a lot of coverage in Saturday's paper, including my season advance on how the Wild says it's time for the organization to take the next step and end its four-year playoff drought.
Each player got undershirts that read, "TAKE THE NEXT STEP. NO EXCUSES."
Also, Chip Scoggins wrote a real good column on Mikko Koivu and how he's handling almost being overshadowed as captain and I wrote a notebook on a number of subjects and of course a preview box on the game.
The news of the day:
-- Tom Gilbert (groin) says he is "good to go," meaning Matt Dumba likely won't make his NHL debut.
-- Pierre-Marc Bouchard is excited to play his first game in more than a year.
-- Coach Mike Yeo said Matt Kassian will likely not play, but Yeo did say that if Colorado brought a tough lineup, which may include minor-league fighter Patrick Bordeleau, than Kassian may be in the lineup. My guess: If that's the case, maybe Darroll Powe won't play because Kassian could take his left-wing spot and Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell are a PK pair.
The Wild is 10-0-1 in home openers AT Xcel Energy Center (I put that caveat because technically the Wild didn't win its "home opener" against Carolina in Helsinki), including 10 consecutive wins.
Niklas Backstrom (20-5-2 all-time vs. Colorado) vs. Semyon Varlamov (4-0 against the Wild) on Saturday.
I will be on KFAN at 12:55 p.m. AND 6:45 p.m. Saturday and I will now be a contributor all season periodically on Fox Sports North. I should be on Saturday at 3:45 p.m.ish depending on when the high school game ends.
Talk to you Saturday. Opening Night everybody. Finally!