After weeks of playing against one another at Braemar Arena in Edina and three more days of training camp at Xcel Energy Center, the Minnesota Wild is on the verge of facing a team with a different crest on the front of its jersey.
Most players can't wait.
The Wild will hit the road for its preseason opener on Monday when it travels to State College, Penn. to face the Buffalo Sabres at Penn State University's Pegula Ice Arena.
"Camp has only been three days, but it feels like it's been going for two weeks," said Wild defenseman Nate Prosser. "We were all together for a couple of weeks before, skating together, and you get sick of battling against your own jersey. It'll be fun to get some opponent competition going."
Prosser will be one of seven defensemen to make the trip east. He will pair with Marco Scandella on Minnesota's top defensive unit. Mike Reilly and Hunter Warner will form another unit while Nick Seeler, Matt Dumba and Victor Bartley are also expected to make the trip.
The line of Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle and Chris Stewart will lead the forward group for the Wild.
"It seems like I've been here for three months now," said Zucker, who arrived in the Twin Cities on Sept. 1. "I'm excited that I'm playing tomorrow. It's actually the one game in preseason that I get excited for because it's the first one.
"You're ready to go."
Ryan Carter and Alex Tuch will skate on the second line, centered by Tyler Graovac. Mario Lucia and Christoph Bertschy will flank Pat Cannone while Nick Saracino, Grayson Downing, Kurtis Gabriel and Pavel Jenys will round out the forward group.
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said he has been pleased with what he has seen from Carter in the early part of camp. Carter, who has played with the Wild the past two seasons, is in camp on a professional tryout.
"I'm not looking for a 40-goal scorer," Boudreau said. "A guy that competes, is a good teammate and knows what to do defensively. You chip in eight to 10 goals and that's a pretty good player."
Goaltender Alex Stalock is expected to see the lion's share of the minutes between the pipes. Steve Michalek will back him up.
Stalock, a native of South St. Paul, said putting on the Wild uniform for the first time will be a bit surreal, even if it's just preseason.
"It'll be cool. Something I thought about all summer," Stalock said. "Getting a chance, obviously it's on the road, but to be with this organization is pretty cool."
What does the new coach want to see from his team in the preseason opener?
"Effort, and just to see if the concepts of what we're trying to do, to see if that's working a little bit," Boudreau said. "The young guys that are playing are going to play a lot of energy. Usually, the young guys that aren't going to make the team are the best players."