MINNEAPOLIS – It’s been five months since the Minnesota Wild played a hockey game, but all that will change on Thursday night when the Wild opens a 56-game season in the LA Kings.
Wild coach Dean Evason, who entered his first full season after being the interim for Bruce Boudreau last year, said on Wednesday that the team had some extra jump in the skates when the team got on for the last time before the start of the regular season. TRIA Rink trained. .
“Everyone was on fire today. We had a lot of energy, a lot of details, a lot of executions, so hopefully that will spill over into tomorrow night,” said Evason.
The Wild will fly to Los Angeles on Wednesday, but the hours leading up to Thursday night’s opener will be anything but normal. Players and team officials spend most of their time in their hotel room. There will be a team meal at the hotel, but there will be plenty of Netflix, reading books and video chats to pass the time before Thursday’s puck drops.
A shortened season starts with a four-game road trip for the Wild. Two against the Kings and two in Anaheim before returning to St. Paul. With 26 fewer games on the schedule and eight games against seven opponents each over the next five months, a quick start is essential.
“You have to treat every little segment like a mini-playoff series. The points are huge, getting it right will be big for us,” said Wild defender and captain Jared Spurgeon.
The Wild narrowed its roster to 22 players on Wednesday and placed attackers Luke Johnson and Kyle Rau, defenders Matt Barkowski, Louie Belpedio and Dakota Mermis, and goalkeeper Andrew Hammond in its taxi squad. They can practice with the team and be called up in the event of a COVID-19 problem or injury.
Marco Rossi, Mats Zuccarello and Alex Stalock have also been named injured non-roster players.
The Wild will look very different when the puck drops on Thursday night. Not Eric Staal, Jason Zucker, Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund or Devan Dubnyk. They will have Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba among the veterans again. Kirill Kaprizov is making his highly anticipated NHL debut.
Nick Bjugstad is with the team in his hometown and Kevin Fiala will be looked to take his game to another level after a strong finish last season. They also have Marcus Foligno after he signed the tailor on Tuesday for a three-year extension.
The Wild will not have Stalock due to an upper body injury, but will have Cam Talbot or Kaapo Kahkonen in the net.
Aside from two scrimmages airing on social media, fans get their first real look at the wild Thursday night.
“We’re just getting things going, it’s been a long time for us and to go to LA and hit the road, a week together at the hotel will be good for the team,” said Spurgeon. “We are all excited to play games, it has been a long time for us and to start a season and start tomorrow is very exciting.”
Hockey is back. Training camp is over, now it is real.
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