The Wild finally plays its second home game of the season tonight at Xcel Energy Center against John Tortorella and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Good morning from the press room. You can tell this morning just how everybody in the Blue Jackets organization was still stinging from Todd Richards' firing. If you know Richards, he's a good guy and everybody feels for him. But as he told the Columbus Dispatch in today's paper, this is the business and the Jackets are 0-7.
A change was going to be made, especially considering the hefty expectations on Columbus this season.
Tortorella held an optional skate this morning and didn't go on the ice. Odd for his first day and even odder to me that most the team took him up on exercising its option, but Tortorella's never been a big believer in pregame skates. He is a big believer in saving it for the game, and you know the Blue Jackets will bring desperation tonight (Torts joked that he needs to get a media guide because he doesn't know player and staff names).
So coach Mike Yeo said the Wild must be ready for a hard game
The Wild's excited about getting into a routine now. It almost feels like every game is opening night because the Wild has had such distance between games this season.
As Jason Pominville said this morning, it feels like an AHL schedule.
But after playing five games in the first 14 days, the Wild will now play four games in the next six days. Tonight also starts a stretch of seven of nine at home, where the Wild was actually mediocre for large chunks of last season.
"We need to play games to continue to get to our game," Yeo said. "We can do so many things in practice. But when you get into the games, that’s really how you build your game. That’s from a team perspective, but an individual standpoint, too."
This should give players the chance to get into a rhythm now. "As that happens, you’ll see guys continue to improve," Yeo said.
Sergei Bobrovsky, 0-5 with a 5.07 goals-against average and .835 save percentage, vs. Devan Dubnyk tonight.
Nino Niederreiter is good to go tonight. All forward lines remain intact with no extra forwards here. The defensemen are back to their original pairs, meaning Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba are reunited, as is Marco Scandella and Christian Folin.
"The first few shifts anyways," Yeo said, only half kidding. "We’ll see how it goes. This is an unfinished product with how we’ll utilize those guys. It’s not an issue for us. It may seem like a big deal. But all year last year we had different pairings with different guys. Many games we were going with five defensemen, meaning you're playing with two different guys."
Yeo said as players get comfortable playing with different D, it'll also help if the Wild runs into injury issues this year (which it did last year).
Full slate of Russo overexposure today:
3:15 p.m. I'll be on KFAN with Dan Barreiro
4 p.m. I am co-hosting my podcast with Jim Souhan at Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub. Come on down, listen, ask questions. You can hear the show afterward on malepatternpodcasts.com
Wild pregame show at 6:30 p.m. and first intermission, I'll be on Fox Sports North.
Postgame, I'll do a Cinesport video for our web site.
At some point in between, I hope to write.
Talk to you later.