12:30 p.m. CDT
Practice has wrapped up, and the team is readying itself to go catch the flight to Columbus.
Todd Richards liked his team's practice today. He said Benoit Pouliot is healthy and has been cleared to play. It will be a gameday decision whether Pouliot or John Scott will be in the lineup, it sounds like. Scott brings an "element" as the 12th forward into the lineup that Richards said the Wild will need sometimes, especially in visiting buildings.
11 a.m. CDT, Friday
The Wild is on the ice in preparation for tomorrow's season opener in Columbus. The game is at 6 p.m. CDT and can be seen on KSTC-TV Channel 45, and heard on WCCO Radio or Wild.com.
Every player on the Wild's 22-man active roster is on the ice. The lines look like this today:
There's a neat feature, by the way, on James Sheppard up on Wild.com: http://wild.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=500609&navid=DL|MIN|home
Tomorrow, the Wild will be trying to win its fifth straight season opener. Only Edmonton (five) has currently won more. Also, the Wild and Senators are tied for the top points percentage of any active NHL team in season openers.
The Wild flies out at 2 p.m. today for Columbus. It's a nasty, rainy day in Minnesota, but at least the plane is here - it never left after taking us home from Philadelphia on Tuesday night. Aaron Sickman is on this trip. I will spend the weekend packing for the 10 1/2 day monstrosity through Southern California, then Northern California, then back to SoCal, straight to Edmonton and then Vancouver. It's always exciting to go to Vancouver, although we won't have much time there. We're flying back on the 17th, after the game in Vancouver, with an anticipated arrival time at MSP of 3:46 a.m. CDT.
What an exciting weekend this is in the Twin Cities. Chronologically speaking, the Twins open up a do-or-die series tonight at the Metrodome against the Royals. Oh and by the way, it's their final series (regular season at least) at the 'Dome. Tomorrow, the Gophers play the hated Wisconsin Badgers at the new TCF Bank Stadium. Wild/Blue Jackets to open up the NHL season on TV/radio in the evening. Sunday is the Twin Cities Marathon - good luck to all of you participants. Monday, in case you hadn't heard, is Vikings/Packers at the Metrodome. If the Twins and Tigers end up tied for the AL Central, that playoff would be Tuesday afternoon, a perfect lead in to...Wild home opener Tuesday! Select tickets are still available for the home opener against the Ducks. The game begins after 8 p.m., and doors will open at 6:30. Get your tickets on Wild.com or by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000.
For even more info on home opening festivities, including the team's Wakeup Rally in downtown St. Paul and a Pre-Game Party, please click here
They'll be putting up brand new dashers between now and the opener. It's all white boards right now except for the "Reebok" at the blueline and redline. Looks old school.
Shootout drill happening now. Todd Richards: "There will be a little bit of skating for the losers." Miettinen (gray) shoots wide. Brent Burns (green) on Backstrom, quick low snapshot GOAL! 1-0 green.
Clutterbuck (gray) doesn't get a shot off (maybe Harding was singing Hannah Montana), and Havlat (green) scores. Harding stops a big slapshot by Belanger, and Sykora scores on Backstrom. It's 3-0 green.
Harding a stop on Shane Hnidy, and the route is on. Bouchard (green) can't extend the lead. Onto round five and Big John Scott, who chips it over the net. Bruno for green picks a spot and goes top shelf and it's 4-0! Harding tackled Brodziak to keep the shutout intact. Nolan is stopped by Backstrom so it's still a 4-0 advantage.
Greg Zanon spoils Harding's shootout shutout, but Koivu counters onthe other end. Jamie Sifers (gray) is stopped, and I've basically stopped keeping score. Marek Zidlicky the last shooter for green, and Backstrom makes the stop, but team gray will do some skating. Although it appears Richards has a change of heart. He's separated the guys into some groups. I'll get a look at the 5-on-3 group at the left end of the ice.