EDMONTON, ALBERTA – As if restarting the season while living at a hotel inside a bubble isn’t strange enough, Wild players are in close quarters with the opposition, including their qualifying-round foe, the Vancouver Canucks.
“It’ll be a little awkward if we’ve got an elevator full of Vancouver guys. I don’t know if I’m going to be getting in it,” winger Jordan Greenway said Friday on a video call before the team’s practice in Edmonton. “But other than that, the play will stay on the ice and it will be very competitive. I don’t know if anything’s going to happen in the hotel, but I can definitely see it carrying over to the next game.”
Not only are the 12 teams situated in Edmonton for the NHL’s tournament-style return sharing accommodations at hotels, but they’re also accessing the same amenities in the bubble — from restaurants to activity spaces. Players were instructed to stay mostly in their hotel rooms for the first five days and to only interact with their team’s traveling party, but now that they have cleared that timeline, they are more likely to come across players from other teams while roaming around the bubble.
“It’ll be unique, there’s no question,” winger Zach Parise said. “I don’t see anything carrying over to the lobby or anything. Sometimes playoff series, the further it goes, you develop a pretty good hatred toward the opposition. So to see them, it’ll just be a little different seeing them in the hotel and whatnot. But that’s what we got.
“I don’t think you’re going to get in an argument with anyone about a game in the hotel by any means. But that’s just the way it’s going to be right now.”
The Wild practiced Friday in Edmonton, and the team will get one more session in Saturday before taking on the Canucks on Sunday.
Coach Dean Evason said everybody is healthy and the Wild will use these last few workouts to focus on Vancouver. He is still planning on informing goalies Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock who the Game 1 starter will be Saturday.
“We aren’t going to tell anybody before we speak to our goaltenders face to face and tell them how we go about our business,” Evason said.
Greenway “got lost a little bit in the first period” of the Wild’s 3-2 exhibition loss to Colorado on Wednesday, Evason said, with Greenway’s minutes declining as power plays and penalty kills took over the action. But Greenway got more involved as the game progressed, gaining reps with linemates Eric Staal and Kevin Fiala.
“It’s fairly easy playing with both of them, and we’ve been on the ice for two or three weeks now,” Greenway said. “So, even though we didn’t get to play together maybe as much as we wanted to in the game the other day, I think we’ll still find some chemistry throughout the next few days and we have throughout most [of] training camp.”
The Wild’s opening match against Vancouver is the late game Sunday at Rogers Place, and it’ll be interesting to see what type of ice conditions will be in store for the teams after two games have already been played.
When the Wild got on the ice Wednesday to face the Avalanche, that was the first game of the day.
“The ice was pretty good,” Staal said. “Later in the period the puck would kind of get a little bit slow at times, a little bit sticky with the humidity. But overall, I didn’t find it any different from regular-season games.”