The result wasn’t what the Wild wanted, but a 4-1 season-opening loss to the Avalanche didn’t send the team scrambling.
Instead, the Wild will roll out the same lineup it used Thursday when it debuts on home ice Saturday at Xcel Energy Center against the Golden Knights.
“After Game 1, if you don’t give guys opportunity – especially young players – they’re going to make mistakes,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “They’re going to be our life blood in this organization. We gotta let them play with a little bit of confidence that if they make a mistake, they’re still going to be fine.”
Still, there were plenty lessons to learn from that opening-night loss; the Wild stopped skating, struggled to transition the puck up ice and put just 13 even-strength shots on net.
“I think the most important thing is you gotta get 19 guys playing,” Boudreau said. “We’re not the kind of team we only have 10 guys playing to the top of their game that we usually succeed. Usually, when we’re a complete team and everyone’s going, we’re usually pretty good.”
Although he won’t play against Vegas, forward Luke Kunin was on the ice with the team during the morning skate.
Kunin, who’s recovering from a torn ACL, passed Boudreau’s skate test Saturday. He’s getting closer to being medically cleared to play and once that happens, it’s likely Kunin embarks on a stint in the American Hockey League to reintegrate into game action.
“He hasn’t played a preseason game yet,” Boudreau said. “So common sense says he’s going to go down and play some games. But the biggest thing is to get him healthy. He’s what we need in this organization – a good young player who can play. So to get him playing at top speed would be the ideal thing rather than just throwing him into the fire up here right away.”
Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Mikael Granlund
Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Nino Niederreiter
Joel Eriksson Ek-Jordan Greenway-Charlie Coyle
Marcus Foligno-Matt Hendricks-Eric Fehr
Ryan Suter- Matt Dumba
Jonas Brodin-Jared Spurgeon
Nick Seeler-Greg Pateryn
400: Career games for winger Mikael Granlund.
4: Goals last season for center Eric Staal vs. the Golden Knights.
14-0-3: The Wild’s record in its first home game of the season at Xcel Energy Center.
11: Points in winger Zach Parise’s last 12 games.
25:21: Ice time for defenseman Ryan Suter in the season opener Thursday.
About the Golden Knights:
The most successful expansion team in NHL history began Year 2 with a loss. Vegas was upended 5-2 by Philadelphia Thursday at home. Still, the team is just 13 wins shy of setting the NHL record for wins through 100 regular-season games – a reflection of an impressive first year that culminated in a berth to the Stanley Cup Final. During the offseason, the Golden Knights brought in forwards Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny. Vegas also re-signed last season’s leading scorer William Karlsson to a one-year contract.