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Wild Practice Update From Tampa

by Mike Doyle / Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild took its longest plane ride of the season today, flying from Toronto to Tampa Bay and boy are their arms tired. Good night everyone, remember to tip your waitress.

If the Lighthouse is a little breezy today, it’s because that was the mood on the ice. Despite 4-1 loss to the Maple Leafs last night, the team was in high spirits because, while they won’t come out and say it, the Lighthouse will: Minnesota outplayed Toronto and probably should’ve walked away with a ‘W’.

So after landing and a quick check-in at the hotel, the team went through a brisk skate working on flow and shooting drills. The Wild has been snake-bitten early on, the team acknowledges that it needs to be better at finishing, so a lot of the focus today was on shooting and getting to the net for rebounds and loose pucks.

One of the youngsters that has been peppering shots on goal like Parmesan cheese on a slice of ‘za is Nino Niederreiter. In the four games since joining top line with Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise, El Nino the trio has fired a combined 42 shots on goal. While getting attempts is nice, the line knows that it has to start finishing and Niederreiter talked about staying focused with WildTV after the skate.

While it might get frustrating for offensive players when they don’t score, the one thing that you always want to ask: Are they getting chances? In the Wild’s case, plain and simple, yes. And that’s a good reason to stay positive despite an early season 5-on-5 goal drought.

On the ice, the Wild kept the same lines as yesterday’s game, but Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo didn’t divulge if he’d change things up tomorrow when the team skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

After missing yesterday’s game for precautionary measures after taking a puck to the face against the Buffalo Sabres, Yeo said Ballard was feeling and skating fine.

No update on goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who suffered a knee strain against the Nashville Predators on Oct. 8. Yeo said that he didn’t get a chance to speak with Backstrom after practice, but the netminder appeared to be moving well, both side to side and popping up from the butterfly.

In case you missed it yesterday after the game, Becoming Wild, presented by Toyota, aired its second episode of the season and the cameras followed a day in the life of goaltender Josh Harding. You can watch it for the first time, or second, third and fourth, on WIldTV. The Wild will host Harding’s Hope Night on Thursday, Oct. 24, when the Wild takes on the Carolina Hurricanes. Five dollars of every individual ticket purchased to the game (up to $5,000) benefits Harding’s Hope, the charity launched by the goaltender to raise awareness and support those living with multiple sclerosis.

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