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From the Rink: Wild takes crash course in learning new arena's quirks

Friday's game marks the third meeting between the teams this season, but first at Vegas' T-Mobile Arena

by Dan Myers @DanMyers /

LAS VEGAS -- Playing at T-Mobile Arena for the first time, nearly everyone on the Wild roster is doing their own bit of reconnaissance on the building itself.

Skaters are checking on the ice quality, the sponginess of the boards and the stanchions, hoping to learn as much as they can about how the puck plays in the new building. 

"Not too intently, but you do notice it in practice," said Wild forward Charlie Coyle. "You kind of take notice. I think it's good to know that stuff; the bounce off the boards and the back boards and all that, what the puck is going to do when it hits it."

For goaltenders, it's about learning new sight lines and how the puck looks against the backdrop of the seats, just in case they aren't filled early in the game. 

"Everything is black," said Wild goaltender Alex Stalock, Friday's expected starter between the pipes for Minnesota. "That can make it tough for pucks once they're up above the boards. But I'm sure it'll be a full house, so the seat color will go away from practice to games."

It's the same process the Wild had to go through in its season-opening game at Detroit, when the Red Wings opened Little Caesars Arena. 

"It was one of the reasons we wanted to practice here [Thursday]," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "To see what the boards' reaction was and see what the glass reaction was and just how the ice was. It was important that we see those things."

Video: Wild pregame at Vegas Golden Knights

While most guys on the team have played in every NHL arena -- many several times over -- the trip to T-Mobile Arena is a first for every guy on the roster.

"It's exciting, just to see how good a job they did with everything, and the rink and the locker room and all that. It's pretty cool to see," Coyle said. "You'd never think of playing in Las Vegas in a National Hockey League game, so I think it's been really good for the League. These guys have been playing well, so we want to make sure we put all the other outside noise away, leave it out there and focus on in here."

In terms of the noise, plenty is expected inside the building. Wild fans have seemingly made an impressive pilgrimage west; Wild shirts and hats have been two of the more common things spotted along the Strip. 

That could make for a unique -- and fun -- atmosphere inside a visiting building.

"I think that's been that way for a lot of teams, it's a good excuse to get away and go to Vegas," Stalock said. "Judging by going out to dinner, and being around town grabbing lunch, you see a lot of Wild hats and stuff. I think we'll see a lot of Wild fans tonight."

Here are the projected lineups:


Jason Zucker - Eric Staal - Nino Niederreiter

Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund

Tyler Ennis - Matt Cullen - Charlie Coyle

Marcus Foligno - Joel Eriksson Ek - Zack Mitchell

Ryan Suter - Matt Dumba

Jonas Brodin - Ryan Murphy

Nick Seeler - Nate Prosser

Alex Stalock

Devan Dubnyk


Jonathan Marchessault - William Karlsson - James Neal

David Perron - Erik Haula - Tomas Tatar

Ryan Carpenter - Cody Eakin - Alex Tuch

Tomas Nosek - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Ryan Reaves

Brayden McNabb - Nate Schmidt

Deryk Engelland - Shea Theodore

Colin Miller - Jon Merrill

Marc-Andre Fleury

Maxime Legace


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