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Pulkkinen Skates In First Wild Practice

Right winger expected to play on fourth line and on power play in debut Thursday

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

Wild practice in St. Louis

Wild practice in St. Louis

The Wild practice in St. Louis on the eve of the season opener and welcome a new face to the organization

  • 01:36 •

ST. LOUIS -- For the first time this season, the Minnesota Wild conducted practice on opponent ice, skating in a brief session Wednesday at Scottrade Center.

The Wild open the 2016-17 regular season Thursday against their Central Division rivals, the St. Louis Blues.

Minnesota got its first look at newcomer Teemu Pulkkinen on Wednesday. The Finnish right wing arrived in the Twin Cities late Tuesday afternoon and flew with the team to St. Louis on Wednesday morning.

"It was good, a good day of practice and I'm excited to be a part of this team," Pulkkinen said. "I'm excited, just waiting for tomorrow."

Pulkkinen started practice on the right side of countrymen Mikael Granlund and Mikko Koivu, jumping right onto the Wild's second power-play unit. He is expected to get time there in the opener.

Having a couple of familiar faces -- at least early in practice -- helped settle any butterflies that may have been lingering.

"It's way easier [of an adjustment]," Pulkkinen said. "You can ask those guys what's going on and if you need some help, they can help you."

Tweet from @mnwild: Sutes smiling about the season starting tomorrow �� #mnwild

After transitioning to the 5-on-5 portion of practice, Pulkkinen swapped sweaters with Jason Pominville and moved to the fourth line with left wing Jason Zucker and center Zac Dalpe. That group should form a line combination against the Blues.

Zucker, who said he has played against Pulkkinen on several different occasions during international competition, said he wanted to help teach Pulkkinen system-specific stuff that could be helpful for their line, including forecheck and neutral zone.

"For me, it was just [trying to relay] the necessities that he needs to know," Zucker said. "Everything else, he'll figure out. He's a smart player. He's been around long enough to know and be able to pick up a lot of that stuff."

For Wild coach Bruce Boudreau, it was his first opportunity to get a first-hand look at the newest player at his disposal.

"He can shoot the puck," Boudreau said. "He rifled a couple right in there. You look at his record in the American [Hockey] League when he played. It'll be interesting to see him play."

Pulkkinen's AHL resume is sparkling: 65 goals in 119 career games at that level, including a league-leading 34 in just 46 games in 2014-15. A right-handed shot, Pulkkinen has 11 goals and 20 points in 70 NHL games over three different seasons.

"I think it's hard to analyze his NHL statistics," Boudreau said. "This is three different years [in a] combined 70 games, you maybe don't play as much, you don't get into a rhythm, you're called up as an extra."

Tweet from @mnwild: Boudreau: "I'm excited to see what we've got...We're ready to get going." #mnwild

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