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Wild Warmup: Minnesota at Detroit

Wild opens regular season, Little Caesars Arena in Motor City on Thursday

by Minnesota Wild @mnwild / Wild.com
The essentials

Who: Minnesota Wild at Detroit Red Wings 

Puck drop: 6:43 p.m. CT

Watch: NBCSN, NBCSN Live

Listen: KFAN 100.3 FM, Wild Radio Network

Follow: @mnwild; GameCenter


The opponent

After nearly 40 years at Joe Louis Arena, the Detroit Red Wings will open the brand new Little Caesars Arena on Thursday night in the regular season opener for both teams.

The Red Wings finished outside of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 25 seasons last year, going 33-36-13 with 79 points -- 16 points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. 

Detroit appears to be in the midst of a massive rebuild. Despite the losing record last season, the Red Wings didn't make a major splash in free agency, instead signing defenseman Trevor Daley and depth forward Luke Witkowski. 

Henrik Zetterberg, now 37 years old, is back after a 68-point season. Tomas Tatar led the club with 25 goals. Detroit will need a rebound season from Dylan Larkin, who scored just 17 goals and had 32 points in 80 games one year after a breakout rookie season that saw him score 23 goals and 45 points.


Connections

• Wild defenseman Kyle Quincey was selected by the Red Wings in the fourth round (132nd overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and recorded 49 points (15-34=49) and 252 penalty minutes in parts of eight seasons with Detroit (2005-08, 2011-16).

• Detroit assistant coach John Torchetti served as Wild head coach for the final 27 games of 2015-16 season after serving as the Iowa Wild's head coach from 2011-2013 and 2014-2016.

• Detroit defenseman Nick Jensen hails from St. Paul and skated in three seasons at St. Cloud State (2010-2013). 


Opening salvo

Minnesota has posted a record of 9-5-2 all-time in season openers (including a tie in 2001-02). Minnesota dropped a 3-2 decision in St. Louis to open last season but is 4-1-1 in its past six season openers dating back to 2011-12. Thursday marks the first time Minnesota will face Detroit in a season opener, and just the fourth time in franchise history the Wild faces an Eastern Conference opponent (Carolina, 2010; Boston, 2008 and 2002).

Minnesota starts the year on the road for the seventh time in team history. The Wild is 1-4-1 in season openers as the road team, going 8-1-1 all-time when opening the season as the home team (including a loss vs. Carolina to start the 2010-11 season in Helsinki, Finland).

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