While Xcel Energy Center arena workers moved the NHL banners hanging in the rafters to reflect the shifting National Hockey League divisions, today’s Minnesota Wild Training Camp, presented by Andersen Windows, featured a scrimmage with the players splitting into Green and White (Group A wore white, while Group B was in green).
The prettiest goal of the game came from Jason Pominville. The winger took a pass from Mikko Koivu in front of goaltender Josh Harding, settled the puck on his forehand, pivoted to his right and slid a backhand through the goaltender’s 5-hole. Their linemate, Zach Parise scored the other Team White goal on a backhand that snuck through Darcy Kuemper’s legs.
Kyle Brodziak got Green on the board, putting the puck behind Niklas Backstrom after a short scrum in front of the net. Dany Heatley scored on a penalty shot after Mathew Dumba tripped him up on a breakaway. With Dumba chasing, Heatley made a nifty forehand-backhand move and slid the puck through Backstrom’s legs.
The game was played in 22-minute halves with an ice resurface between and had a good pace. Team Green took the ice prior to the scrimmage, while White practiced afterwards. The focus of the practice was transition play and odd-man rushes, with a little conditioning thrown in at the end for good measure.
Blue Line Special
Yesterday, the Lighthouse noted a few of the intriguing forward lines. A few defensive pairings of note from today’s scrimmage:
Ryan Suter – Jonas Brodin (Green)
Jonathon Blum – Keith Ballard (Green)
Marco Scandella – Jared Spurgeon (White)
Clayton Stoner – Mathew Dumba (White)
No surprise that Suter and Brodin are paired together, as they were a unit for almost the entire season last year. Scandella and Spurgeon have skated together in the past as well, both during last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs and while they were in Houston of the American Hockey League. It was interesting to see Dumba, the Wild’s 2012 first-round pick, paired with the more stay-at-home-minded Stoner. Dumba wasn’t afraid to try and make plays, skating through traffic in the defensive end and finding forwards in transition.
With Yeo wanting the Wild to be more of a puck-position team, the blueliners will be responsible for causing the opposition to turnover the biscuit and moving it to forwards in transition.
“If you want to be a good team off the rush and a good transition team, it starts with defending the right way to create those turnovers and that separation,” Yeo said yesterday. “The way we come out of our coverage and the way that we go back and retrieve pucks, we definitely want to execute and come out with the puck on our sticks.”
WildTV caught up with Spurgeon, Scandella and Stoner about their roles and the new focus on the club’s transition game. Stoner also got married over the summer and talked a little about the ceremony in Mexico. A recap video and their individual interviews, along with Yeo’s media availability, will be on WildTV later today.
Sunday’s Scrimmage Livestream
Wild.com will livestream Sunday’s Green vs. White scrimmage. Wild Radio Host Kevin Falness will emcee the broadcast alongside FOX Sports North analysts Mike Greenlay and Wes Walz. The scrimmage is at 11 a.m. at Xcel Energy Center and free and open to the public.
Yeo said that he wants the scrimmage to have a regular-season-like atmosphere. The teams will play three 20-minute periods. The teams will be split up like they are in the Group A and Group B sessions.
Season Ticket Book
If you’re a Wild season ticket holder, expect your season ticket book in the mail as they are being sent out this week. Stick tap to our creative staff for putting them together and to the youngsters who submitted artwork for the book. One of the job requirements for the Lighthouse is attending every Wild home game; otherwise we’d pick up season tickets just for the awesome artwork. Each ticket page also features a short story from the artist.