UPDATED AFTER SKATE
Something’s got to give tonight!!!
The Wild, which shut out Colorado in consecutive home and away games to open last season, and Avalanche have the two highest season-opener point percentages in NHL history (.643).
The Wild is 8-4-2, the Avs are 19-9-7.
The Avs are 11-4-3 when opening a season at home, the Wild 0-3-1 when opening a season on the road.
The Wild is 15-3-3 in its past 21 regular-season games in Denver, holding the Avalanche to two or fewer goals in 15 of those games. The Wild took four of five from the Avalanche last season, including three via shutout.
It led to some, let's call it, public trash-talking (Zach Parise being the funniest: "I'd probably be frustrated too if you play a team and haven't scored on them in four games except on a dump-in.") after Cody McLeod jumped Mikael Granlund and fought Charlie Coyle late in a game.
McLeod got things started yesterday by taking some jabs at the Wild, so tonight should be an interesting start to the Wild season.
The Wild started 2-0 last year, had five days off and by the time they next played, it was in ninth because teams had played so many more games. The Wild has a similar schedule this season, playing at home Saturday vs. St. Louis, then not playing again until Arizona on Thursday to start a three-game trip that ends in So. Cal.
So, the Wild wants to do its best to get four points these opening three days.
The Avalanche oddly won't hold a morning skate today. The Wild will, and the lines are exactly what has been reported for a week (see below link).
I'll update the blog later if anything interesting comes out of it, but after three weeks of camp and a week between the last exhibition game and tonight, really, what else can be said? Let's drop the puck!
Couple notes from after the skate:
1. Yeo: "We're definitely ready. It's been a long camp and it's nice to finally drop the puck."
2. Yeo said he has talked to Niklas Backstrom and told him he really doesn't know how it's going to go. Darcy Kuemper will be backup the first two games, and then they'll decide what to do after that. "There's a third guy that can't just be left off to the side. We have to make sure we're keeping everybody sharp and involved. We don't have a long-term plan right now."
3. Yeo on Justin Fontaine: "He's coming along. He's missed a lot of camp and his conditioning is not where it needs to be. We'll get him there quickly. I would expect him to not be in the lineup on Saturday."
4. Yeo said the PK forwards will change from game to game, from situation to situation (where faceoffs are, who's in the box). Like if there's a faceoff in the right circle, maybe Charlie Coyle goes out there with a forward he normally wouldn't be out there with. I'd suspect we'll see Coyle, Erik Haula, Ryan Carter, Mikko Koivu, Jason Zucker, and at times periodically Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter. Chris Porter will also get PK time, but since he didn't get a lot of camp with the Wild, it may not be tonight. Also, they have been working with rookie Tyler Graovac and want to slowly work him in because Yeo likes to play every player on at least specialty team. But early in the season, maybe it's sporadic with Graovac. Yeo said he definitely wants at least one forward on the ice at all times that was a penalty killer last year.
I'll also be holding a live chat at startribune.com/wild today at 3 p.m. CT, will be on KFAN at 4:15 p.m. and on Saturday will be co-hosting my podcast with Jim Souhan at Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub in St. Paul at 4 p.m. If you're coming to the home opener, please come down early and join us.
If you missed today's Star Tribune preview, here are the links:
Also, I know many fans don't tune into the Wild until the season starts, but if you've missed our coverage the past two or three weeks, you may want to go back in the archives and give some of the stories a read. There have been some cool features, especially on guys like Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker, Thomas Vanek, Tyler Graovac, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter turning the page from a painful, heartbreaking season a year ago, etc., etc.
Talk to ya tonight.