A sold-out crowd won't be in the seats to welcome the Wild back for another season, but that hasn't turned down the excitement the team feels to play its home opener Friday at Xcel Energy Center against San Jose.
"It's different, but this is still our home," coach Dean Evason said. "It's still our house, and we want to make it difficult obviously for teams to come in here and play. There's a buzz around, for sure. Obviously, we're going to have a few fans in the building as far as family and friends. But, yeah, it's absolutely nice to be home for sure."
Not only are some lower-bowl seats covered by tarps, but the State of Hockey flag is on display along with high school jerseys.
"The first jersey I saw, I'm not lying, I saw the Blaine jersey," said local Nick Bjugstad, referring to his alma mater. "So, that was pretty cool. It's cool they put some heads in there. They're doing their best here with what they can. The crowd noise at the away game helps. I'm sure it'll be the same here at the X, and they'll do a good job."
Some familiar faces will be in the crowd, as 150 family members and friends can attend the game, and the Wild will also recognize the opposing goalie.
Devan Dubnyk, who the Wild traded to the Sharks in the offseason, is getting the start for San Jose.
"I'm sure in practice he knows where every shot's going, but games you have bodies flying everywhere," captain Jared Spurgeon said. "We're looking forward to it, and I'm sure there'll be some comments back and forth. But it'll be fun."
Zach Parise-Victor Rask-Kirill Kaprizov
Marcus Johansson-Nick Bonino-Kevin Fiala
Jordan Greenway-Joel Eriksson Ek-Marcus Foligno
Nico Sturm-Nick Bjugstad-Ryan Hartman
Ryan Suter-Matt Dumba
Jonas Brodin-Jared Spurgeon
Ian Cole-Carson Soucy
6: Points out of a possible eight for the Wild on its recent four-game road trip.
7: Points for the Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno line.
12: Hits for Foligno, which is the most on the Wild.
19: Shots for winger Kevin Fiala, a team high.
10-4-1: Run for the Wild in its last 15 games vs. the Sharks at Xcel Energy Center.
About the Sharks:
San Jose is off to a ho-hum start, going 2-2 after a pair of games against Arizona and two vs. St. Louis. The Sharks split each series, with both of its wins coming in a shootout. This series against the Wild continues an eight-game stretch for San Jose on the road to open the season. Due to local health regulations, the team had to move its training camp to Arizona and it's unclear if it'll be able to play its home games at SAP Center. The Sharks' first home game is scheduled for Feb.1 against Vegas.