Minnesota Wild vs. Colorado Avalanche
Puck drop: 5 p.m.
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The exhibition season rolls on Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center when the Wild hosts the Colorado Avalanche. The game marks the fourth of seven preseason contests for Minnesota.
Saturday's game is a 5 p.m. start as part of U.S. Bank Kids Day, as thousands of youth from around the state will receive an opportunity to experience an NHL game, thanks to the donations of both the organization and Wild Season Ticket Members.
Wild.com's Dan Myers has three things to keep an eye on during the game Saturday night:
1. All about the kids
Before the game, kids will have various opportunities to experience free, kid-friendly activities such as face painting, balloon artists, crazy hair stylists and coloring stations.
Children can also receive an autograph from a Wild player (name to be announced) from 4:15 to 4:45 p.m. Kids will take center stage in each of the regular Wild in-game elements including making the "Let's Play Hockey!" call, skating in the youth starting lineup, riding on the Zambonis during intermission, and more.
Tickets donated by the team and Wild Season Ticket Members were distributed to Wild community partners, non-profit organizations, youth hockey associations, military families and area children's hospitals.
Video: Wild pregame against Avalanche
2. Veterans lead the way
After mixing in only a handful of experienced players in the lineup through the first three preseason games, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau will ice a lineup that looks much closer to what fans can expect to see when these same clubs open the regular season Oct. 4 in Denver.
That was certainly reflected in Friday's practice groups, which featured one that more closely resembled the opening night roster and another that had more guys likely to begin the year in Iowa.
Players listed in Saturday's lineup include Charlie Coyle, Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Eric Staal, Jason Zucker, Nino Niederreiter, Matt Dumba, Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon and Mikael Granlund.
"In all three games, we've probably had nine or 10 [NHL guys]," Boudreau said earlier Friday. "I'm guessing [Saturday] we'll have 12 or 13."
3. One for the win column
It's only the exhibition season, but the Wild would like to score a victory at some point, especially considering it has carried play for a bulk of all three preseason games to date.
The script has so far been the same: slow start, followed by a 40-minute stretch where the Wild has clearly been the better team, followed by a 10-minute span near the end of games during which Minnesota has lost its handle.
Boudreau isn't worried yet; the lineups have been mish-mash between players expected to begin the season in Iowa and others in Minnesota. But as the roster starts to take shape and the regular season gets closer, he wants to see his team close.
"If we had our whole lineup in and it kept going, that would be concerning," Boudreau said. "But I think we've given everyone a good chance to play so far and we'll start getting a little more serious as the next week goes along."
Video: Strong finish to week of camp