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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. Colorado

Wild attempts to remain undefeated in preseason with first of back-to-back games against Avs

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com
The essentials

Who: Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild

Puck drop: 5:08 p.m. CT

Watch: FOX Sports North Plus, FOX Sports GO

Listen: KFAN 100.3 FM, Wild Radio Network, Wild.com, Wild NHL App

Follow: @mnwild; Game Center


Getting closer 

For the first time this preseason, the Wild will play a team other than the Winnipeg Jets. Minnesota swept two games against its Central Division rival during the week, winning 3-2 in a shootout in Winnipeg on Monday before gaining a 1-0 victory in the return affair on Thursday. 

Now, the Wild will focus on the Colorado Avalanche, and a pair of games against them this weekend. After playing at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday, the series will shift west and to Pepsi Center in Denver on Sunday.

At home, the Wild is expected to bring a lineup with plenty of familiar faces, including the preseason debuts of Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund, Eric Staal, Devan Dubnyk and Ryan Suter. 

"We want to get their feet wet," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "I don't expect them to be at their same level they are in the middle of January, but at the same time, it's important to play people that don't like you."

While the preseason has started slow, it will quickly pick up over the next week. The Wild will play a pair of games this weekend, leading into an every-other-day routine next week, including road games in Dallas (Tuesday) and in Kansas City (Thursday) before returning home for its preseason finale against the Stars on Sept. 30.

By then, the regular season will be just five days away.

"It's always exciting to get back into a game situation," Staal said. "Obviously, it doesn't count for anything, but it's just getting the tempo, getting the reps, getting the pace, getting the timing back; a lot of different things you want to tune up before it counts for real. The best chance to do that is in a game."

Video: Wild Pregame vs. Colorado


The opponent

The Avalanche scored their first victory of the preseason in a 5-1 win over the Dallas Stars on Thursday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Nail Yakupov led the Avs with three assists, and rookie forward Alexander Kerfoot had one goal and one assist. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who had an injury-ravaged 2016-17 season, made his preseason debut and made 21 saves on 22 shots. 


It's all about the kids

Saturday's contest marks the Wild's annual U.S. Bank Kids Day. Thousands of youth from across Minnesota will get to experience an NHL game at Xcel Energy Center thanks to more than 4,000 tickets donated by the Wild and its season ticket holders. The team distributed the tickets to more than 20 community and non-profit organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, Ronald McDonald House, learn-to-play programs, area children's hospitals, and military and youth hockey programs. Kids will be featured in multiple elements of the game presentation and numerous free, kid-friendly activities will take place throughout the arena during the game.


Wild roster*

32 Alex Stalock

40 Devan Dubnyk G

6 Ryan Murphy D

9 Mikko Koivu C

10 Chris Stewart RW

12 Eric Staal C 

16 Jason Zucker LW 

18 Cal O'Reilly C

20 Ryan Suter D

21 Ryan Malone LW

22 Nino Niederreiter LW

23 Gustav Olofsson D

24 Matt Dumba D

36 Nick Seeler D

37 Kyle Rau LW

48 Sam Anas RW

63 Tyler Ennis RW

64 Mikael Granlund RW

72 Brennan Menell D 

82 Justin Kloos C 

* subject to change

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