Like many teams around the League, the Wild will get its first look at a young Edmonton Oilers team on Tuesday. Edmonton's roster consists of 13 players who are 25 years old or younger.
And as has been the case with most of Edmonton's opponents, the Wild will be tasked with and was asked about playing against 18-year-old rookie Connor McDavid.
"Obviously he's a great player, and he's been proving it lately, but most of all we have to worry about ourselves, and our game plan to deter what he does best with his speed," Jared Spurgeon said. " You can see with a lot of the young guys with how talented they are and how hard they work.
"Every game you play against one of those young guys is something new, and you look forward to that challenge."
The Wild is well equipped to match up with teams that try to come at them with speed, with that being one of Minnesota's core qualities.
Head Coach Mike Yeo is also familiar with highly touted rookies who are first overall draft picks, having coached Sidney Crosby as an assistant for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"Similarities, for sure, in what I've seen from him," Yeo said. "There's something about those types of players. They come into the League, and they don't just want to prove that they belong, they want to stand out, and that's each and every shift that they're out there."
And while Yeo and others were questioned at length about containing McDavid, the Wild knows there is a lot more to the Oilers, a team with plenty of good, improving players that will provide a stiff test.
"They're a fast team with a lot of skill," Spurgeon said. "Obviously they have deep forwards, and we just have to try to slow them down with our back-pressure and our gap as well."
Devan Dubnyk put it very plainly after taking part in morning skate on Tuesday: his knee is fine, and it is of no concern moving forward.
"I got everything checked out yesterday, so it's all good," Dubnyk said. "It felt great. I was quite happy yesterday. I was surprised at how good it was waking up in the morning, and it's just gotten better. Nothing that I would ever think about during a game."
Dubnyk had felt discomfort in his knee Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks, and then again Sunday when he relieved Darcy Kuemper against the Winnipeg Jets.
But both Dubnyk and Yeo made it clear that conversations occurred, and there was no chance of making the situation worse.
"There would be no way we'd be putting him in the lineup if we had concerns this might set him back," Yeo said.
After saying he heard what he thought was a pop on Saturday, Dubnyk said on Tuesday that it was actually something different.
"It's just some irritation and inflammation," Dubnyk said. "The bones or joints moved over top of each other, which is what seemed to be a pop on Saturday, which wasn't actually a pop."
Back with the main group was rookie forward Tyler Graovac, who was a participant in morning skate as he continues along his recovery path from a groin injury sustained in the first game of the season.
"It was frustrating obviously, but it's more something that I kind of dealt with a little bit in camp, and it kind of flared up a little bit in Colorado," Graovac said. "It's taken a lot of patience to get through the two-and-a-half weeks now, and when I feel stronger every day it definitely puts a smile on my face."
After earning one of the only available roster spots out of training camp, Graovac has been forced to watch since opening night.
"I've been able to stay positive, and I've dealt with injuries before, and for me, it's a long season, it's a long year, and my one thing is playing at 100 percent, and helping the team win," Graovac said. "I'm not going to play at 50 percent and not help the team."
Though Yeo said he would be available tonight if needed, defenseman Christian Folin will be scratched in favor of Nate Prosser. Yeo said Folin is dealing with a lower-body injury.
"[Prosser] played a good game last game, so I think it just makes sense to bring [Prosser] back in tonight," Yeo said.
Here is the Wild's projected lineup:
Jason Zucker – Mikko Koivu – Nino Niederreiter
Zach Parise – Mikael Granlund – Jason Pominville
Thomas Vanek – Charlie Coyle – Justin Fontaine
Chris Porter – Erik Haula – Ryan Carter
Ryan Suter – Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin – Matt Dumba
Marco Scandella – Christian Folin
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