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Wild Warmup: Minnesota at Winnipeg

After four-day layoff, Wild is back in action North of the Border against Jets on Thursday

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /
The essentials

Who: Minnesota Wild (0-2-0) at Winnipeg Jets (2-2-0)

Puck drop: 7:08 p.m. CT

Watch: FOX Sports North, FOX Sports App

Listen: KFAN FM 100.3, Wild Radio NetworkWild NHL App

Follow: @mnwild; @mnwildscribe; GameCenter

The Wild Warmup is presented by Bryant Heating and Cooling

WINNIPEG -- The Wild's three-game "road trip" to begin the 2019-20 regular season comes to a close on Thursday when it plays the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place. After beginning the year in Nashville and in Colorado last week, the Wild has enjoyed the comforts of home for the past several days, but hopped on its charter and headed north Wednesday. 

Minnesota will return home after the game to prep for its home opener on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

But before that, the Wild is hoping to capture its first victory of the season against a club it went 5-0 against last year.

With that in mind, the Wild could debut a couple of new looks on Thursday, when Jason Zucker is expected to play on the left wing with Mats Zuccarello on the right side. That's one duo that has been together very little since the start of training camp.

"He's a playmaker. He's a guy that wants to pass the puck," Zucker said. "I'm hoping that I can use my speed to make some space for him to allow him to make those plays. It'll be fun to get to know him as a player and play in a game with him."

Mikko Koivu will be the centerman between those two, but the idea of a playmaker like Zuccarello playing opposite a goal-scorer like Zucker looks good on paper.

The Wild hopes it looks good on the ice too.

Video: Zucks, Zucs with Koivu at Wednesday practice

"I just want to feed those guys with some pucks," Zuccarello said. "Doesn't matter who you play with, all we want to do right now is get that first win of the season and keep it going."

The other change up front comes in the form of Marcus Foligno, who has skated with Kevin Fiala the past two days. Eric Staal, who was given a maintenance day on Monday, joined that duo at practice on Wednesday and could form a new-look line.

Foligno has skated on the fourth line for much of his time in MInnesota, but Wild coach Bruce Boudreau likes Foligno's ability to forecheck, saying he brings a "new element" to that line.

"They make plays, they see the ice a lot, so my job is to create space for them," Foligno said. "But at the same time, I can't change my game for them, I can't become a finesse player and do something different. Just bring the energy and bring the physicality."

Speaking of home openers, Thursday will mark the first home game for the Jets as well after Winnipeg started the season with a four-game road trip against Eastern Conference foes.

The Jets began the season with a loss at Madison Square Garden on Opening Night but rallied 24 hours later with a 5-4 shootout win in New Jersey, scoring five unanswered goals after falling behind 4-0.

Winnipeg lost 4-1 on Sunday against the New York Islanders but rebounded with a 4-1 win in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. 

The Jets have question marks on their blueline, with Josh Morrissey nursing an upper-body injury sustained in warmups before the game against the Islanders. 

Morrissey's injury comes on the heels of an eventful offseason in which the Jets lost Tyler Myers to free agency and traded Jacob Trouba to the Rangers. Dustin Byfuglien is currently not with the team as he mulls his future plans.

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