Minnesota Wild fans of all ages picked practice over watching Saturday morning cartoons today, as the club opened the doors of Xcel Energy Center for day three of training camp, presented by Andersen Windows.
The two practice sessions were open to the public to coincide with the organization’s ticket on-sale. About 1,000 fans came to the on-sale and stayed to watch Head Coach Mike Yeo run two practices.
Again, the players split into two groups and today’s sessions concentrated on the implementation of systems, including some defensive zone coverage with the players’ sticks turned upside down. Along with a lot of white board work, Yeo was often talking to players individually and with their lines.
After practice, the Wild bench boss said that day three is typically when a little fatigue and soreness starts to creep in, but thought the players pushed through it well. There is a big difference in playing shinny summer hockey and going through a National Hockey League practice. No matter how much you might train in the summer, camp and the season brings conditioning to another level.
Yeo made a few training camp trades, moving Mikael Granlund to center between Justin Fontaine and Jason Zucker in the early group. When asked about the former Minnesota-Duluth Bulldog, Yeo said that he is on a line with skill players for a reason and wants to see what he can do in a game situation. Granlund, Zucker and Fontaine will get a chance to show their stuff at tomorrow’s inter-squad scrimmage. WildTV talked to the line after practice, and all three are excited about seeing game action tomorrow.
Charlie Coyle, who looks like he’ll start the season at center, was between Nino Niederreiter and Dany Healtey. Yeo said that he likes the size and skill that the three posses. In tomorrow’s game, the coach said he’d like Niederreiter to get more puck touches than yesterday’s short scrimmage.
Kyle Brodziak, Matt Cooke and Torrey Mitchell stayed together. While the trio has looked good early in camp, they are still working out the kinks as Cooke and Brodziak collided along the wall during a defensive-zone coverage drill—much to the delight of their teammates. No one was hurt on the play and both players skated away with a smile.
No surprise that Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Jason Pominville skated together again. Judging by our Andersen Windows Photo of the Day (see above), Koivu likes skating with Pominville.
Yeo said to expect the lines from today to be together again tomorrow.
The Lighthouse hasn’t given any goaltender updates, mainly because you can pencil in Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding as the Wild’s goaltending duo once the season starts, while Johan Gustafsson and Darcy Kuemper will split time in Iowa. However, here’s a netminder tidbit: Harding debuted some stylish new red pads for the fans in the stands. The glove and blocker are a solid Iron Range Red, matching the leg pads that sport a green stripe with a white boarder. Take a look for yoursef at Harding’s new pads.
Niklas Backstrom also has a new paintjob on his helmet. The Lighthouse snapped a photo of the Backstrom’s lid, but didn’t get a chance to talk about him about the new design. Plans are in the works for a WildTV project featuring the goaltenders talking about their helmets.
Don’t forget, tomorrow Minnesota will have a Green vs. White scrimmage at 11 a.m. at Xcel Energy Center. The game will be free and open to the public. Wild.com will live stream the scrimmage with Wild Radio Host Kevin Falness calling the broadcast alongside FOX Sports North analysts Mike Greenlay and Wes Walz.
Early Birds Get the Tickets
Pete Travis and Chris Krueger are dedicated fans. The two were first in line for the Wild’s ticket on-sale, camping out overnight to get the first choice of tickets at Xcel Energy Box Office.
“It’s tradition,” Travis said. “It’s the State of Hockey. We’ve been doing this every year since Minnesota got the NHL back with the Wild.”
A photo gallery of today’s on-sale and some shots from today’s practice can be found here.