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Morning Skate: Preseason at Minnesota

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS AT MINNESOTA WILD


XCEL ENERGY CENTER | 8 P.M.
LIVE BLOG




While one half of the Blue Jackets' training camp roster plays the Buffalo Sabres at Nationwide Arena, the other half squares off against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

This is the second consecutive preseason in which Columbus has taken part in a split-squad contest, the last coming in 2011 with the Winnipeg Jets.

Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards dressed a lineup robust with regulars on Sunday against Pittsburgh, but tonight, there will be a balanced mix throughout the two groups.

Jeremy Smith and Oscar Dansk are the goaltenders traveling with the Minnesota-bound Blue Jackets roster, which will be led by associate coach Craig Hartsburg (a one-time Minnesota North Stars defenseman).

Here are complete rosters for tonight's 8 p.m. ET start in the Twin Cities...


COLUMBUS
Forwards: Skille, Craig, Atkinson, Comeau, Johansen, Bass, Chaput, Collins, Rychel, Letestu, Hansen, Vogelhuber

Defense: Wisniewski, Murray, Melart, Weber, Goloubef, Parlett

Goaltenders: Smith, Dansk


MINNESOTA
Forwards: Veilleux, Brodziak, Mitchell, Zucker, Grandlund, Fontaine, Cooke, Coyle, Niederreiter, Dowell, Steckel, McMillan

Defense: Dumba, Ballard, Scandella, Prosser, Connelly, Blum

Goaltenders: Backstrom, Kuemper




Exhibition games are unpredictable by nature and a split-squad game kind of takes it to another level, but there are a lot of things to keep an eye on tonight. The Wild is dressing a youthful lineup up front with some veterans sprinkled it, and are going with their No. 1 goaltender in Niklas Backstrom. Minnesota will be without some of its top players, including Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Jason Pominville and Dany Heatley. On the other side, the Blue Jackets are bringing a similar mix as the Wild, including some young players like Ryan Johansen, Ryan Murray, Jack Skille and others who are eager to show the coaching staff and management that they deserve a spot on the opening night roster.

Training camp and preseason are a three-week showcase for players in those types of situations, and internal competition often brings out the best in players. Tonight's game is the first tune-up for Minnesota and with a roster battle of its own going on - especially at the forward position - there will be some hungry players suiting for head coach Mike Yeo and the Wild. Something else to watch out for: more of the same type of intense, physical game we saw Sunday night at Nationwide Arena. You don't need to tell guys like Cody Bass, Ryan Craig, Ilari Melart and Will Weber to play with an edge.






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THURSDAY, 7 P.M.
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