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Preview: Wild hope to avoid rocky start to preseason against Avalanche

It’s here, hockey is here.

Colorado Avalanche v Minnesota Wild Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s happening! It’s finally happening! The 2022-23 (pre)season is here and Minnesota Wild fans around the state and beyond can rejoice!

The Wild are set to take on division rival and reigning Cup Champions in the Colorado Avalanche. Take note that this game will not be available to watch, and will only be broadcasted on KFAN-Plus. The other two preseason games in St. Paul will be on Bally Sports North, as well as the game in Milwaukee. Just not the opener this afternoon.

We’ll get to see (hear) some familiar faces suit up again in green, red, and gold, but also some new ones. Three forwards, two defensemen, and a goalie dressing for their first Wild game this afternoon. Here’s how they will line up:

Forwards Servac Petrovsky and Hunter Haight come into today’s game with an OHL season each under their belts, with the Owen Sound Attack and Barrie Colts respectively. Their linemate, Caedan Bankier is coming off of three seasons with the WHL’s Kamloop Blazers.

Another pair of youngsters will round out the blue line, with the Winnipeg Ice’s Carson Lambos and the Sherbrooke Phoenix’s David Spacek.

Goaltender Jesper Wallstedt, the Wild’s first round pick in 2021, will back up Flower in net. We’ll have to wait a little bit longer to see the Swede in action between the pipes.

While the roster is by no means all NHL-bound, it’ll be an interesting mix of new faces and fan favorites. Wild fans will be able to get a glimpse of the team’s current state and its future.

As for the Avalanche, they’re coming off of a Cup-winning season and have a lot less to prove than the Wild. But this is just one of two games for Colorado today, so expect the talent to be fairly sparse.

That being said, Colorado is facing some injuries up front as well. Gabe Landeskog, Val Nichushkin, and Darren Helm are all injured and out for the time being.

This won’t hurt the Avs too much in the preseason as they assess prospects. However, depending on the longevity of each player’s injury and the health of the rest of their roster, their absence could become more evident.

Puck drops at 3:00 p.m. at Xcel.

Burning Questions

Which of the new players will stand out today?

Every preseason, there seems to be an up and coming player who shocks fans and shines every chance they get. Whether or not they make the regular season roster, it’s important for an organization to have talent down the pipeline. More than that, it’s important for fans to have faith in the system.

I’d expect to see some big moves by unexpected names today and in the coming preseason matchups.

Which returning players will show off the work they put in this offseason?

Wild fans have high expectations of their returning star players and while the preseason doesn’t reveal all, it’s a way for veterans to remind their fans why they keep coming back.

With Kaprizov in the lineup, I’d expect some points or at least a few spectacular plays out of the fan favorite, regardless of how many minutes he gets or who he’s matched up against. A turbulent offseason won’t stop him, that’s for certain.

Can the Wild open the preseason with a win?

The preseason is so unpredictable, with players sorting through prospects, veterans, and everything in between. Ultimately, the odds for this match come down to who the Avalanche put on their roster.

The Wild are starting off with a roster of half returning NHL players, half young players, which isn’t uncommon for the beginning of the preseason. I’d be surprised if Colorado came out of the gates with anything too different.

It’s up to this rendition of the Wild to start the preseason off on the right foot and get fans invested in what’s to come.