The Wild will get its seven-game preseason schedule started tonight in Winnipeg, with a 7 p.m. game at Bell MTS Place. You can listen on KFAN or watch on NHL Network, which will join the game in progress when the Rangers-Islanders game ends.
The group that will play held a short skate this morning, preceded by a practice for the guys who aren’t playing tonight. Zach Parise again sat out, skating after the practices were over. Mikko Koivu, who came out to practice with the non-game group, was quickly sent off the ice because of lace bite. (For the uninitiated, that’s a condition that causes pain down the front of the lower leg to the big toe.)
Coach Bruce Boudreau said Koivu’s condition isn’t serious, though it is painful. “I told him, ‘Listen, we need you,’’’ Boudreau said. “I don’t want you to continue to practice with that. So get off.’ He would’ve stayed on.’’
Tonight’s game could start to provide some clarity on who will make up the Wild’s third defensive pair. Kyle Quincey, currently slotted in on the right side of the third twosome, is in the lineup, as are Mike Reilly and Gustav Olofsson, the two top candidates to play alongside him. Defensemen Ryan Murphy, Carson Soucy and Brennan Menell also are on the trip.
Boudreau liked Soucy’s play at the prospects tournament in Traverse City, and he has noted that Murphy—though he hasn’t yet lived up to his early promise—was a first-round draft pick (12th overall in 2011, by Carolina).
“We’re obviously looking for individuals to stand out,’’ Boudreau said, describing what he wants to see in the first preseason contest. “We’re going in pretty tough, with (the Jets) playing their full lineup tonight. The guys will show their character and their heart, and that’s what we’re looking for.
“We just want to play the right way. If we play the right way, I’ll be happy.’’
The Jets are indeed going with an experienced roster for their preseason opener. Their No. 1 goalie, Connor Hellebuyck, is expected to start, and their top seven scorers from last season also will play. There will be three Minnesota natives in the lineup for Winnipeg: veterans Blake Wheeler (Plymouth) and Dustin Byfuglien (Roseau), as well as Tucker Poolman (East Grand Forks), who will face NHL competition for the first time.
Poolman, a 6-3, 217-pound defenseman, signed with the Jets in March after finishing his junior season at North Dakota. A fifth-round pick by Winnipeg in 2013, he had surgery on both shoulders in the offseason.
Here are the lineups posted by the Jets: