The Wild, fresh off its come-from-behind victory from three goals down against Colorado last night, practiced this afternoon at Xcel Energy Center in preparation for Saturday night's home opener against the Central Division foe St. Louis Blues.
Vladimir Tarasenko, David Backes, Alex Steen, Alex Pietrangelo, ... Kyle Brodziak & gang will try to ruin the party.
Make sure you come down because the Wild then plays three road games in the next 11 days in yet another bizarre NHL-issued schedule to start the season. Its next home game is against Columbus on Oct. 22.
Afternoon from the arena press room, where I'm pounding the keyboard.
If you want a sneak peek at Saturday's very fun read on the odd couple that is the Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba friendship and defense tandem, check out the feature here.
If you didn't read the gamer and notebook from last night, check out startribune.com/wild.
Last night's comeback win was the first time the Wild ever rallied from three goals down IN THE THIRD PERIOD ON THE ROAD in franchise history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Also, according to Elias, the Wild became the second team in NHL history and first since Hartford in 1986-87 to win its first game of the season by overcoming a three-goal, third-period deficit.
A reminder: Saturday, Jim Souhan and I will co-host our podcast at Tom Reid's in St. Paul at 4 p.m. Come on down and take part. The Wild's also having a pregame party outside the arena at 4 p.m.
One note on last night: There was a bunch of confusion as to when Patrick Roy took his timeout. I thought it was after the Zach Parise third goal and eventual winner, and so apparently did the broadcasters. But when he gathered his team, it was actually because the Wild hats were being cleaned off the Denver rink.
He actually took his timeout before pulling Semyon Varlamov around two minutes left.
As for Saturday, Brodziak, who ranks seventh all-time in Wild history with 446 games, is skating on a line with Ryan Reaves and Steve Ott. Chris Porter, who played 173 games for the Blues over parts of six seasons, will face his former team for the first time, too.
Porter is expected to skate on a line with Erik Haula and Ryan Carter.
The Wild did sustain one injury last night, and it's not Nino Niederreiter that I'm talking about. Niederreiter practiced today and is expected to play Saturday against the Blues (more on him in a bit).
Center Tyler Graovac, who experienced several spills on the ice last night, sustained a lower-body injury and is "very doubtful" to play the home opener, coach Mike Yeo said.
So, either Justin Fontaine (oblique) will have to make his season debut against St. Louis, the Wild would have to use seven defensemen and maybe play Nate Prosser at wing like it did today or maybe call up a forward like Zac Dalpe from the farm.
Yeo joked that Prosser had a smile on his face all practice today because he was scoring a bunch of goals at forward.
If Fontaine returns, Charlie Coyle looks like he would slide from right wing to center.
Yeo was noncommittal about Fontaine's availability. Fontaine said he would be ready if called upon.
Yeo said Niederreiter is fine and the "protocol last night means the player has to go off and has to get examined before he can return. They didn’t examine him until after the game."
This is a huge problem, the Wild's unhappy and has contacted the league. Yeo said basically if that game went to overtime last night, even if Niederreiter was healthy, Niederreiter wouldn't have been able to return because no doctor cleared him.
"It's out of my hands now," Yeo said. "I'm ready to move on."
The Wild was told there was only one Avs doctor at the game. The NHL told me there was a minimum of three, which to me makes this even more inexcusable because, yes, at the same time Gabriel Landeskog was in Colorado's locker room, but where were the other two?
The league said it's looking into the "unusual delay."
Here's more Yeo today:
On playing the Blues for the first time since knocking them off last postseason: "Last year was last year. This is still a team that sets the bar. Regular season, they just come out of the gate. They know their game, they’re very well-coached and they’re a very deep team, so I think it would be a very big mistake on our part to think that we learned lessons and we’re in a good spot because of what happened last year. Tomorrow is a new challenge."
On the penalty kill giving up 2 goals: "Both goals were extremely easy. That’s not our MO as a penalty killing group. It was an easy faceoff and two easy passes and an easy entry. We’ve spent so much time focusing on our power play and talking about power play and working on power play and everything else, a lot of penalty killers are also power-play guys. So, next little awhile, a real heavy focus on our PK will be important too."
Mikko Koivu didn't practice today because of a maintenance day, but he says he's good to go.
That's it for me. In my secondary story in Saturday's paper, you'll hear from Porter, Koivu and Devan Dubnyk on playing the Blues for the first time since the April playoff series.