Put the lack of scoring from these two weekend scrimmages aside, and you've got reason to be excited if you're a Minnesota Wild fan. Yes, the only goal of Sunday's game came on a penalty shot by Dany Heatley
. And yes, that followed a 0-0 tie on Saturday. But the other aspects of the weekend left plenty for the 2,200 in attendance to get jacked about.
First off, guys are healthy and everybody on the ice seemed to have plenty of jump in their legs.
But the best sight was the return of Pierre-Marc Bouchard
, who sat out yesterday with a tweaked hamstring. Healthy in camp for the first time in three years, Bouchard took his spot alongside Matt Cullen
and Guillaume Latendresse
. The line appeared to click right away and Bouchard was dancing with moves like Jagger.
"It's the first day and I was feeling good," said Bouchard. "I'm still not 100% in game shape but it was good to go out there and make some plays. There's still a couple weeks before the season. We're trying to create a little bit of chemistry out there."
With Cullen's speed, Latendresse's finishing and Bouchard's playmaking, that trio will be counted on for a lot of offense this season, especially with teams keying on Mikko Koivu
's group that includes Heatley and Devin Setoguchi
. Cullen, Latendresse and Bouchard are all expected to be among the players that head to Edmonton for the first preseason game on Tuesday night.
“Every time we came back to the bench we were trying to talk to each other, see what I should have been doing or what I want my linemates to do," said Bouchard. "I think if we all communicate, at the end of the day, we’ll be on the same page and we’ll know what to do on the ice and when we’re together...Hopefully we’re able to put it together."
Bouchard has always been a mild-mannered presence in the Wild locker room, but his excitement level is clearly evident on his face. He's smiling and laughing and obviously confident on the ice.
"It's always fun to come back and be part of training camp. It feels good to get on the ice, get a good practice and get a scrimmage with the guys."
Head Coach Mike Yeo is not going to send his entire lineup to Edmonton, but he'll also bring the Wild's new energy line consisting of Cal Clutterbuck
, Kyle Brodziak
and Darroll Powe
. The defensive corps is expected to include Jordan Hendry, Mike LUndin
, Clayton Stoner
, Jared Spurgeon
, Justin Falk
, Nate Prosser
and Tyler Cuma
as the extra. Josh Harding
, who once again was flawless in 25 minutes of scrimmage time, will get the start with Matt Hackett
as the backup. Niklas Backstrom
did not appear in either scrimmage this weekend, but he did participate in practice once again on Sunday.
Tuesday night will also give Yeo the chance to do further evaluation on some youngsters so he can get a taste of what they bring when callups are necessary throughout the year. Brett Bulmer
, Warren Peters
and Jed Ortmeyer
will make up one line while Matt Kassian
, David McIntyre
and Jarod Palmer
will be the fourth line.