Unless you have been living under a rock, the Minnesota Wild open their 2015-2016 season tonight in Colorado. Last year the Wild went 4-0-1 against the Avalanche. Coincidentally, both Minnesota and Colorado have the highest winning percentage on opening night in the NHL. The Avs are 19-9-7, while the Wild are 8-4-2. But despite the opening night success, Minnesota has never won a season opener on the road
Minnesota went 4-2 in the preseason posting a +12 goal differential. The lineup tonight (which has been set for about a week now) are as as followed:
Zucker - Koivu- Nino
Parise- Granlund- Pominville
Vanek- Graovac - Coyle
Porter - Haula - Carter
Justin Fontaine was placed on IR but has been a participant in practice and probably will be dressing sooner rather than later. Tyler Graovac had one hell of a preseason, earning a spot on the Wild roster. Graovac led the Iowa Wild in points last year and with Minnesota's lack of "scoring" centers he has a lot to prove. Can he get Thomas Vanek going? Will be just another Erik Haula? Was he just the best thing on a TERRIBLE Iowa team? Only time will tell but he's certainly a player to watch.
We all know the up and
mostly down season Ryan Suter had last year. He told Mr. Russo earlier this week he obviously isn't getting any younger but with the Wild having arguably the best blue line in the league, the pairings have been shuffled from a season ago.
Suter - Spurgeon
Brodin - Dumba
Scandella - Folin
Were all aware of the insane amount of ice time Suter has logged since coming to the Wild in 2012 and I still expect him to lead Minnesota in ice time come seasons end, but his minutes may actually take a drop off this year. Remember the dreadful third parings the Wild would trot out last year? Those capable 5:00 minutes of ice time guys like Stu Bickel, Keith Ballard or fill in player C? That is no more. Marco Scandella and (HW community favorite) Christian Folin round out the pairings. Scandella will obviously play a much bigger role on the PK and what not, but Minnesota has a luxury of trotting out six guys that are more then capable of handling plenty of minutes. Something the Wild and honestly most teams do not have. Oh and Mike Reilly wont be an Iowa very long either, so there's that.
The Wild are carrying three goalies (pukes in bucket) on their roster. Yes, Devan Dubnyk will start the majority of the games. No, he will not start 38 straight games again. Yes, hopefully Niklas Backstrom can restore his value. And no you can not write off Darcy Kuemper just yet. Doobie-do signed a six-year deal and for the first time in honestly ever, Minnesota has a goaltender they can count on for 50-60 games. Puck drop is a 8pm on NBCSN, with the gamethread opening at 7:30. Go Wild!