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Wild Taking Level Approach Into Home Opener

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild


Yes, the game Saturday between the Wild and Blues will be Minnesota's home opener, a rematch of a first round series of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the next chapter of a budding rivalry.

But the mantra after morning skate on Saturday was keeping everything in check, and not getting too amped up prior to what has the ingredients to be an intense, passionate game.

"I don't approach games that way," Devan Dubnyk said. "I'm looking to just build each game. It's early in the year, and I'm trying to build my game each game, and give the guys an opportunity to win as best as I can."

Having played against St. Louis so much recently, Dubnyk said he knows what to expect and the difficulties the Blues present.

"It's always a tough game; a lot of skill there, and a lot of size and speed," Dubnyk said. "They go hard to the net, they throw a lot of pucks to the net, so it's always going to be a challenging game for a goalie."

It will make for a heightened atmosphere, especially in the first game at Xcel Energy Center of the season, and the first road game St. Louis has played since being eliminated in game six of the 2015 first round series.

"As we become more competitive, the rivalry has grown, and they've always been a team we've expected and prepared for very hard games, and that will continue," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "Finally we've gotten to the point where they understand that we're a pretty decent team, too. It makes for great hockey."

One player who has experienced the rivalry, but from the other end of the ice, is forward Chris Porter. Claimed by the Wild after the Philadelphia Flyers waived him during training camp, Porter spent the first six years of his career as a Blue and is now getting a crack at his former team.

"Once the game is started you check your friendships at the door," Porter said. "Both teams want two points. It will be difficult to play against those guys, I've known those guys for a long time, but it will be nice to get this one out of the way, and I think it will be fun."

For the Wild, forward Jordan Schroeder was recalled from Iowa on Friday. Rookie Tyler Graovac was injured in the season opener on Thursday in Colorado, and Yeo said at practice on Friday he would likely be unavailable for the Saturday home opener.

"It's always a great opportunity when you can come up right away, especially so quick," Schroeder said. "That's part of this game: there are so many injuries, and things can happen, and you always have to be mentally prepared."

He's experienced those parts of the game firsthand. Schroeder dealt with injuries and illness during training camp, but said he's healthy now and ready to make the most of his latest opportunity.

"It is what is is," he said. "I put it behind me and I'm ready to work."

Also, if you're coming to the game, make sure to check out these fan reminders.

Here is the Wild's projected lineup:

Jason ZuckerMikko KoivuNino Niederreiter

Zach PariseMikael GranlundJason Pominville

Thomas VanekCharlie CoyleJordan Schroeder

Chris PorterErik HaulaRyan Carter

Ryan SuterJared Spurgeon

Jonas BrodinMatt Dumba

Marco ScandellaChristian Folin

Devan Dubnyk



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