Wild coach Bruce Boudreau experimented with his top defensive pairings during the team's training camp, but two days before the season opener in Detroit he reverted to an old, familiar look — Ryan Suter with Jared Spurgeon, and Matt Dumba with Jonas Brodin.
Boudreau said before camp began that he wanted to experiment with a new look. He hoped the pairing of Suter and Dumba would put Suter in "more of an offensive role" and allow Dumba to excel.
"We'll probably put [Spurgeon] back with Suter, because it worked so well in the past," Boudreau said. "We tried something else, and I just didn't think it was as good as what we could have gotten.
"Spurgeon and Suter were arguably the best in the league last year. Both were [plus-33 or -34]. They seem to be on the ice all the time. And I thought especially in October, when the schedule is not that tough, that they can use the minutes. And we may as well have them together than apart."
Though Boudreau noted he is still moving parts around to try to find winning combinations, it appears the third defensive pair will feature veteran Kyle Quincey alongside young Mike Reilly. Quincey said Reilly's skills complement Quincey's stay-at-home defensive style, a point echoed by Boudreau. The coach hopes the two find chemistry, and he complimented Quincey on his physical play in the past two games.
"He's done well," Boudreau said. "I'm pleasantly surprised."
Of Reilly, Quincey said: "We're going to put him in every situation. He can bring the puck up the ice and use his strengths. Then I'm there to do the heavy lifting in front of the net. I think it's a good tandem. It will be interesting to see how we do in the first couple weeks. I'm definitely excited."
Winger Daniel Winnik, in camp on a tryout basis, had not signed and was not listed on the team's official roster Tuesday. With Zach Parise (back) out for at least the first two games, there are only 11 healthy forwards on the roster.
The Wild is less than $1 million under the $75 million salary cap.
Winnik, 32, scored a career-high 12 goals for the Capitals last season. He practiced with the Wild on Tuesday, when it used these line combinations: Nino Niederreiter-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle; Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund; Marcus Foligno-Joel Eriksson Ek-Chris Stewart and Tyler Ennis-Matt Cullen-Winnik.