UPDATED ON BOTTOM WITH MIKE YEO'S DAY ONE THOUGHTS
Welcome to the 2015-16 season.
Training camp has commenced with players taking the ice at Xcel Energy Center today. The 58 players are divided into three teams. Each team practiced today and two had a scrimmage.
First, if you missed my Mike Yeo Q and A, here is your training camp preview. This ran in Thursday's paper.
In today's paper is an advance on this season and how the Wild can get over the hump. Yeo wants to limit the lows this season and also voiced a big concern he has heading in. Please give it a read here.
Also, a reminder where to find me this season:
On Twitter where you can get real-time news, practice updates and game highlights, follow me here.
On Facebook, I post all blogs and articles and videos, as well as my podcasts with Jim Souhan. "Like" the page here and it should go to your Facebook Newsfeed.
And, of course, you can once again hear me all season on KFAN (100.3-FM) and on Fox Sports North during games. I also am doing the podcast with Jim Souhan and those are archived here and are on iTunes under malepatternpodcasts.com.
Starting Oct. 1, Jim and I will be doing most our podcasts at Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub in St. Paul. Oct. 1 is the final preseason game. We will also be doing one on the afternoon of the home opener Oct. 10. I will provide times whenever we do this.
The first scrimmage is in the books. Group B beat Group A 5-4 (was 4-2 before a 5-minute 3-on-3). Zach Parise scored two goals and Mikael Granlund and Matt Carey one each for Group B. In 3-on-3, which featured end-to-end action, Parise set up Granlund for a beauty. In regulation, Ruslan Fedotenko and Ryan Carter scored for green. In 3-on-3, Erik Haula and Gustav Olofsson scored.
Lines and D pairs mean little on Day One of camp, but amongst the big guys, here's what it looks like to start:
Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville
Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Nino Niederreiter
Thomas Vanek-Charlie Coyle-Justin Fontaine
Ryan Carter-Erik Haula-Ruslan Fedotenko
The, what I'll call, fifth line in camp right now could be considered Michael Keranen-Tyler Graovac-Jordan Schroeder
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba
Marco Scandella-Christian Folin
Mike Reilly-Nate Prosser
Other notes so far:
-- Niklas Backstrom has been cleared for training camp and looked good in the scrimmage. Moved side to side well, battled through traffic, only gave up one goal in a 25-minute half.
-- Zac Dalpe, who could see some games for the Wild this season, had to leave the team for the start of training camp for a family matter. Our thoughts and prayers to Dalpe and his family.
-- Grayson Downing will miss two to three weeks with a lower-body injury.
Assistant coach Darryl Sydor, who entered a treatment facility for alcoholism on Aug. 23, has voluntarily extended his stay in California beyond 30 days, his attorney, Ryan Pacyga, told me today.
“I speak with him several times per week,” Pacyga said. “He is making great progress and is doing exactly what he should be doing right now (trying to get better).”
The Wild continues to support Sydor and the hope from his end is that he can return to the team when deemed appropriate.
Sydor was arrested Aug. 20 for drunken driving. He will be arraigned Oct. 12 on two counts of second-degree driving while impaired with two aggravating factors – the endangerment of his child who was in the car and having a blood alcohol content of .16 or more.
Mike Yeo's Day One media scrum highlights:
1. He was happy with the first day's practices and scrimmage: "It's nice when with you been with a group and you know all the guys. They know what to expect."
2. He worked with the pace of the team's game, execution and systems.
3. On the lines: "There's a very good chance that things will switch around."
Niederreiter is real excited to be in a top-6 role and loves playing right wing coming into the offensive zone. Yeo thought Niederreiter had a really good day, but he felt it was tough for him being on his off wing coming out of D-zone. He said he has to adjust to it and learn his routes and teammates may need to give him different outs than they normally would. But Yeo indicated he may flip Niederreiter and Zucker to give that a look. Yeo seemed to indicate because Koivu is also a left shot like Niederreiter, a lot of pucks go to that right side, so receiving pucks in full stride on his backhand is the biggest adjustment.
4. On separating Suter-Brodin: "I'm sure we will see them together at certain points, but I would really like to give Suts the opportunity to try a right shot with him. I think that could open things up in the neutral zone, but I would say more specifically, the offensive zone. ... That could help him and benefit him to create a little bit more offense in there."
5. On his early take of 3-on-3: "A lot of goals." He said with the way the Wild's D skate, he could very easily deploy one forward and two defensemen at times as opposed to always two forwards and one D.
6. They'll start implementing special teams Monday morning at the pregame skate.
7. Yeo reiterated that Suter will likely average between 24-26 minutes a night. He has led the league in ice time his three years with Minnesota at nearly 30 minutes a night.
8. On the three goalie situation, Yeo said, "I'd be lying if I said that we had a plan past our first two exhibition game with our goaltenders." He said Dubnyk will play a portion of Monday's game against the Sabres.