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Practice Takes On More Of A Regular Season Feel

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

Wednesday's Wild practice featured a different look than the beginning of camp as the preseason schedule continues and the regular season opener approaches.

Two groups skated, with the first primarily made up of players from last year's team, with a few exceptions.

"We didn't make cuts today, but we kind of separated the groups, and I don't think anyone's feelings were hurt because the group in the first practice was pretty much everybody that was there last year," Head Coach Mike Yeo said.

While Yeo said there are still spots to be won, and he's looking for some of the young players to step up, Wednesday's first session was a lot closer to how a regular season practice would look and feel.

"It was nice to have the guys out there, and you start to see some lines come together, and some chemistry," Devan Dubnyk said.

Dubnyk is the expected starter for Thursday's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He hasn't played or backed up a preseason game yet.

"I've been hiding," Dubnyk joked. "No it's been good, it's always good to get the first couple of scrimmages in there, and just been practicing the last couple of days and just getting into it tomorrow."

Dubnyk said all he needs to do in terms of preparation for the regular season is get into some preseason games and focus on certain things that will help him prepare for the first game.

"The biggest thing is finding the puck," Dubnyk said. "You go from the summer where nobody is going to shoot at ankles or shoot through somebody. It's a lot of passing, a lot of waiting and waiting, and now you know guys are going to need to take those shots. It becomes extremely important to find pucks, so that's one thing I'm going to be working on."

Dubnyk said he's happy with how the Wild planned out the preseason, giving him games deeper in the schedule as he gets back into regular-season form.

"Just as far as timing wise, competitive wise, challenging, being aggressive in situations, reading certain plays, even little things like puck play, tomorrow will be a good test to see where he's at," Yeo said.

The expected players in front of Dubnyk in Columbus will feature some younger skaters, and Yeo made it clear they still have something to play for.

"We have some open spots, and some opportunities for some guys to continue to show things," Yeo said. "Hopefully the guys who are in the lineup tomorrow use the opportunity to show that."

Here is the projected lineup for Thursday against the Blue Jackets:

Kevin Lalande G

Devan Dubnyk G

Charlie Coyle C

Christian Folin D

Ruslan Fedotenko LW

Justin Fontaine RW

Jason Zucker LW

Ryan Carter LW

Zac Dalpe C

Nino Niederreiter RW

Gustav Olofsson D

Jonas Brodin D

Thomas Vanek LW

Tyson Strachan D

Nate Prosser D

Jared Knight RW

Zach Palmquist D

Tyler Graovac C

Brett Bulmer RW

Erik Haula C

Forward Jordan Schroeder was held out of practice on Wednesday with a minor injury. Yeo said it was more of a precaution and maintenance day than anything else. Schroeder will not play on Thursday but Yeo said he would be available for other preseason games.

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