Nino Niederreiter has a good sock game.
In fact, the Wild sniper wears such snazzy, colorful socks, Wild staffers couldn’t help but take note whenever Niederreiter put his feet up on the team plane.
They, of course, then came up with a fun social media idea: Before games this season, Niederreiter (@thelnino22 on Twitter) takes a snapshot of that night’s pair and tweets them out at the new account, @Nino_Socks. It already has more than 1,000 followers.
“It’s just a fun thing to do, and I’ve got a lot of funny socks,” Niederreiter said before Saturday’s game against Anaheim. “I always like to wear very different kind of socks. I try not to have simple socks.”
He’s worn a colorful variety, such as “pink with yellow polka dots” and “stripes in the desert.”
“I try to add more and more to my collection,” Niederreiter said. “Whenever I see a fun pair of socks, I get them.”
Niederreiter entered Saturday’s game with three goals in six games and has been playing through a lower-body injury.
“It’s getting better and better. It’s a work in progress,” he said.
For Niederreiter to be effective, it’s imperative for him to move his feet to keep up with linemates Jason Zucker and Mikko Koivu and get to his kitchen, the front of the net.
“I feel it’s been a good start to the season for me, but I still feel like we’ve left some chances on the ice, like in Anaheim [last weekend],” Niederreiter said. “But if we’re solid defensively, the rest will come.”
In Sunday’s first regular-season meeting between the Wild and Winnipeg Jets, coach Mike Yeo doesn’t expect any repercussions from the Wild’s 8-1 preseason thumping. After that game, Jets coach Paul Maurice, upset that the Wild used its top power-play guys late, sarcastically said, “It was just an honor to be in the same building with them.”
“I expect them to play hard,” Yeo said. “If they want to [run around], hey, great, we’re going there to try to win. I expect them to try to play their game, which is a physical game. And we’re going to try to play our game, which is a fast game. We’ll be ready for that.”
An hour after Yeo’s comments, the Wild recalled rugged winger Kurtis Gabriel. The tough customer has gotten into 37 career Ontario League fights and 13 AHL fights for Iowa. If he plays, it’ll be Gabriel’s NHL debut.
Maurice told Winnipeg reporters Saturday, “The vast majority of guys who played for our team in that [preseason] game aren’t here, and the guys who were at home I guarantee didn’t watch it.”
Fourth line stronger
The fourth line of Chris Porter, Erik Haula and Ryan Carter has zero points as a line, but Yeo has been fine with their play, and they had a great game against Anaheim. Carter scored shorthanded, and Carter and Porter drew penalties.
“Porter’s game has been steadily improving. Definitely getting more comfortable with the group and our system,” Yeo said before Saturday’s game. “Carts has been giving us really good hockey all year long. It’s tougher for him on the right side. That’s not his natural position. The last couple games have been better for Haulzy.
“It’s always a big lift for your team if your fourth line can chip in.”
Folin is healthy
Defenseman Nate Prosser played for Christian Folin against the Ducks. Folin was checked through the visiting bench door by Columbus’ Scott Hartnell on Thursday and only played eight minutes, but Yeo said Folin is healthy.
“Last game we took the approach of using five guys more frequently, and that left him on the outside. It wasn’t relative to his play,” Yeo said.