The Auston Matthews tour hits Xcel Energy Center tonight at 7.
In Winnipeg last night, the No. 1 overall pick was one-upped (three-upped, actually) by the No. 2 overall pick, Patrik Laine.
Laine, who tied the score in the final minute of the third period after goalie Frederk Andersen inexplicably skated to International Falls to play a point a shot that never came, completed his first career hat trick in overtime after Matthews was stopped at the other end.
This should be quite a Calder race between these two special players.
"A lot of speed, man," coach Bruce Boudreau said of the Leafs. "They can go. Everybody's dangerous, and they'll be more dangerous when they blow a 4-0 lead in the third. I think they might be a little [ticked]."
Please give my feature in today's paper on Matthews a read. Some good stuff in there, including from Laine, Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello and Senators associate coach Marc Crawford.
"He's going to score goals," Boudreau said. "He's a big, strong kid, he doesn't mind the traffic. I've never seen him live, but the second goal he scored against Ottawa was pure skill. ... You know you're going to have to watch him anytime on the ice. ... Him, and [William] Nylander, Nydlander's a great passer and a great young player, too. You can't get outnumbered by these guys."
Yesterday's blog was indeed accurate. Matt Dumba is the lineup casualty with Christian Folin playing well and Boudreau wanting to give Mike Reilly a second chance.
"Maybe he has to do a little less," Boudreau said of Dumba. "Sometimes players try so hard and they do too much rather than just do their job and make plays. Dumba is going to be a really good player. And he's a good player right now. He's trying to do too much right now. We just want him to calm it down and play his game."
Reilly knows he has to be better than opening night in St. Louis.
“Just try to come in and play my game," Reilly said. "Obviously, wasn’t satisfied with the first effort and as a team, so just come in and try to do what I do best. It was good for me go down and play in Iowa a few nights ago, get minutes, get a lot of reps and play in every situation. Just try to come in and be confident.”
He says the Wild has not told him what has been indicated to us, that he could be up and down based on lineup decisions and the fact he's the only one of the depth D that doesn't need waivers to get to the minors.
“I think just play strong defensively, shut down plays quick, have a good stick," Reilly said. "I tried to knock the pucks off guys sticks pretty quick and pick up position. Try to get some shots, get some chances.”
He feels a skating game against Toronto fits his game: "It doesn’t hurt, the up and down game, they can skate pretty well. I know a lot of guys on this team, pretty fast, can make plays, play some good hockey, so it seems like it could be an up and down game, quick transitions, so they’re probably going to feed off turnovers, so you gotta manage the puck well with just the way they skate and make plays.”
He said he can't look at tonight like he has to prove himself
"I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself," Reilly said. "I felt I had a good preseason, just one tough game against St. Louis, not gonna let that get me down. I’m confident in what I can do each night. Just try to come in and play my game and let everything else take care of itself.”
On playing childhood friend and training partner Jake Gardiner for a second time in their careers tonight, Reilly said, "We go way back, so it’s pretty cool. I know he definitely got this one circled on his calendar, obviously with a lot of family and friends coming to the game tonight. We talked a lot about this game, he’s obviously excited every time he gets to come into town and see everybody and especially play against me too, it kind of makes it even more special that we’re so close. Definitely pretty cool, we’ll be competing hard though. But it’s Wild versus Leafs, not against me and him, definitely pretty cool to have both of us playing.”
Oh, and Jason Zucker is good to go.
Devan Dubnyk vs. Jhonas Enroth, who gave up 18 goals in three starts against the Wild two seasons ago, including seven for Buffalo in Dubnyk's debut.
I'll be on KFAN at 4:55 p.m. and Fox Sports North during the pregame show and first intermission.
And, here's the latest Russo-Souhan Show. Lots of laughter and talk about the Wild's start. Our next two podcasts at Hell's Kitchen will be Nov. 2 and 16 at 4 p.m.