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Day One Yields No Goals, Lots Of Optimism

by Glen Andresen / Minnesota Wild

The 2,000 fans that spent their Saturday morning inside Xcel Energy Center didn't get to see an offensive explosion they dreamed about all summer long. Instead, they saw a defensive and positional battle as Team White and Team Green played to a 0-0 tie on the first day of Training Camp.

Apparently, Mike Yeo's positionally sound system is already working.

Still, there was a feel good story out there today as Josh Harding manned the crease at one end for the first 25 minutes of the running time contest. He was flawless and showed no signs of being impaired by the devastating knee injury he suffered during last year's preseason.

At the time, many wondered if his Wild and/or NHL career was done. Harding admitted he was one of them.

"I definitely didn't know if I'd be here [again]," said a sweaty, but happy Harding. "The Wild gave me a great opportunity here that I definitely respect."

Harding is expected to back up Niklas Backstrom again this year, although Backstrom didn't participate in today's scrimmage. After taking part in the morning session of practice, he ended his day due to some lower body soreness.

Fans also were denied the chance to see Pierre-Marc Bouchard pair up with Guillaume Latendresse on Saturday. Bouchard was also dealing with some lower body issues, having tweaked his hamstring. Fridley native Jarod Palmer took Bouchard's spot on the side of Latendresse and Matt Cullen.

Neither Backstrom or Bouchard are expected to miss significant time.

Other than that, today's scrimmage was rather uneventful. Mikko Koivu got his first look at new linemates, Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley. While held scoreless, Koivu was robbed early by Dennis Endras after a nifty setup from Setoguchi. In the final 30 seconds of the period, that line again pressured but was snuffed out by Darcy Kuemper on several chances from in close.

The first day of camp was obviously the first time new Head Coach Mike Yeo was able to skate with his players. Yeo is looking to implement a system built on a hard forecheck while being positionally sound. He didn't hesitate to speak up early in drills when he saw things that needed to be corrected.

"I was real happy with the way guys started to grasp things in practice, and then start to implement it," said Yeo. "You can tell it's not habit yet, but you can see them apply the things we're working on it."

"More importantly for me was the overall effort and attitude of the guys."

The team will hold another open scrimmage on Sunday morning, again at 10:00 a.m. Admission is free, but for those who can't make it, a live stream will again be provided on
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