ST. PAUL -- Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno may still be the new guys on the Wild roster, but they're feeling right at home in Minnesota. With a few practices and a preseason game under their belts, the former Buffalo Sabres are eager to get going and make an immediate impact in the regular season.
Foligno, at 6-foot-3, is a big player whose presence discourages opponents from taking liberties with his team. Though he's working on his shooting and his goal for this season is to get on the board more, he's better known for making gritty plays and getting deep into corners than he is for lighting the lamp.
Ennis, on the other hand, is only 5-foot-9, but has more of a scoring touch and has been particularly effective on power plays in the past. A smaller player on a line full of big bodies in Monday's preseason opener, Ennis says he wants to use his speed to his advantage.
"I think every team needs a balance of speed and size and skill," Ennis said. "There's a lot of different attributes that are helpful toward the team, and I'm gonna try to be the fast guy, the quick guy, get in there and make plays, complement some of the bigger guys."
Both Ennis and Foligno have noticed a different mindset in the Minnesota locker room from what they were used to in Buffalo.
"Here the goal is to win the Cup," Ennis said. "And it's a fun environment to be around."
Because this is only the second team either forward has played for in the NHL (each was drafted by the Sabres), Foligno said having a familiar face making the transition with him is helpful.
"We talk a lot, we're really close," Foligno said. "It's great to have someone that's in the same position as you, you have someone to reflect on things with."
Video: Ennis, Foligno Gear Up for Season
Ennis and Foligno have been reunited with a former teammate from Buffalo, Chris Stewart, in the Minnesota locker room; meanwhile, Ennis's childhood best friend, Jared Spurgeon, is also a member of the Wild. Both new teammates and old have helped the new players adjust.
"These guys have been great, it's been a lot of fun getting to know them," Foligno said.
With off-ice chemistry taken care of, the real test remains on the ice. While Ennis and Foligno have been NHL mainstays for several years, the Wild's training camp roster is full of talent and will challenge them both to dig a little deeper.
"They're tiring skates," Ennis said, "but I'm learning a lot, just trying to get better every day… my goal is to help the team achieve [a Stanley Cup win]."
Even though it's only a few days into training camp, having that lofty end goal in mind already will serve as motivation all season long. With that kind of focus, it's clear Ennis and Foligno fit right in with the winning culture they speak so highly of.
Both will be in the lineup Thursday for the first home preseason game against the Winnipeg Jets. "We're all rested up and excited for tomorrow," Foligno said.