The first of two practices in Duluth is in the books and for the second straight day, Wild players, coaches, trainers and staff are tearing up the golf course here on the shores of Duluth.
Good day from Amsoil Arena, the house that Bob Mason built.
It’s beautiful outside, and inside I’m being entertained while I write by the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, the No. 2 team in the nation, partaking in a captain's practice.
Scott Sandelin is in the house, too, and got to watch the Wild’s practice this morning and reunite with his pal, Wild coach Mike Yeo. The two of them actually went to the Def Leppard concert together at the State Fair late last month.
NOTE: If you’re a Duluthian/ite/er or from close by, the Wild’s open-to-the-public practice Wednesday is now at 10 a.m. Doors open at 9:30 a.m., so be sure to skip work or, in the case of some Bulldogs, midterms.
Also, mark your calendars again for Oct. 6 at 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. when myself, Mark Parrish, Chip Scoggins and Michael Rand will hold a Wild panel and discussion and Q and A and storytelling session down at Star Tribune headquarters. Here is the information you need on that. Please come by and take part.
Also, Jim Souhan and I will be taping our podcast at 4 p.m. at Tom Reid’s Pub on Thursday before the Wild-Sabres game, so stop by and join in the fun. The podcast will be posted later that night on malepatternpodcasts.com.
If you didn't read today's article, I profiled depth defenseman Tyson Strachan and his charitable endeavor, Strachan's Strays. Here's the article. You can go to strachanstrays.com to check it out.
Today at Amsoil, Justin Fontaine and Marco Scandella didn’t practice. Fontaine, the former Bulldogs national champion, has an oblique injury and is disappointed that he’ll miss the opener for the second year in a row. Last year, it was a glute injury or as he said, “Muscles you need to play hockey.”
Scandella will rejoin the Wild in St. Paul on Wednesday. He is back home tending to a family matter and wish the Scandella family all the best. He hasn’t been on the ice, I don’t believe, since playing Saturday in Saskatoon, but Yeo expects Scandella to play against the Sabres. If not, Mike Reilly would likely draw in. But my guess is if Scandella can play, Yeo will go with the projected top-6 of Suter-Spurgeon, Brodin-Dumba, Scandella-Folin.
Jason Zucker (lower body) practiced today, as did birthday boy Jordan Schroeder (upper body). But, it was clear to me Schroeder was having some issues shooting the puck, so we’ll see if Brett Bulmer plays for him against Buffalo.
Part of Tuesday’s practice was 3-on-3 to get ready for the new NHL overtime format. The Wild has played three this preseason and scored in each: Parise, Dumba and Erik Haula.
Some of the sets Tuesday: Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Ryan Suter; Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Matt Dumba; Nino Niederreiter-Charlie Coyle-Jonas Brodin; Thomas Vanek-Jason Pominville-Jared Spurgeon. Obviously, Scandella and others, like maybe Haula and Schroeder, will be in the mix, too.
“I don’t think we’re quick enough yet,” Yeo said. “The transition from offense to defense and defense to offense is very important.”
There’s so much strategy involved.
Yeo said the Wild will continue to work at it and “you see how important changes are,” especially because the teams switch sides, meaning there’s the long change like the second period. Yeo said players have to recognize when and how to change and making sure you don’t give up chance. If at all possible, you don’t want to lose possession of the puck when you change, so he’d love to utilize the goalie as long as he’s not under pressure.
They used it on longer plays today “almost like a D regroup so guys are allowed to get off. It’s hard for the other team to forecheck. You don’t want to fly in on the goalie and and then a guy like [Devan Dubnyk] who can move the puck puts by you one long pass and it’s an odd-man rush.”
There will be a lot of reading and reacting and adapting,” Yeo said.
Other than that, lots of fun like golf, bonfires and pig roasts. Today was a hard practice. Yeo joked it was to sweat out the pig roast and “some other things,” uh, like apple juice and sodas.
Nothing else up. Wild assistant GM Brent Flahr will officially add Iowa GM to his title on Wednesday in Des Moines, but as has been reported, this has been the plan for months.
Flahr picks up the duties of Jim Mill, who was informed last spring his contract wasn’t being renewed. Mill was interviewing for jobs at the draft and we wish him the best because he’s a good dude.
Talk Wednesday. Lots of fun stories on the horizon as the season fast approaches: features on Koivu, Granlund, Coyle, Niederreiter, Folin, etc., etc. If you’ve been preoccupied by all the other good teams in town lately, please go back in the startribune.com/wild archives to read our coverage from throughout training camp.
That’s it for me. I have a 3:30 p.m. tee time at Northland, believe it or not. Did I happen to invite you to the Oct. 6 Star Tribune event????????????????