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Wild Warmup: Minnesota at St. Louis

Wild begins 17th season Thursday against Central Division rival

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com
The Essentials
Puck drop: 7 p.m. CT
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Video: Morning skate in St. Louis


The Opponent
St. Louis (1-0-0) opened the 2016-17 season Wednesday with a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center in Chicago. Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals and had an assist, while Paul Stastny and Kevin Shattenkirk each had a goal and two assists. Blues goaltender Jake Allen made 17 saves.

Minnesota (0-0-0) went 2-2-1 in five meetings with the Blues last season.


Connections

There will be plenty of familiar faces when these two square off:

• Wild assistant coach Scott Stevens skated one season for the Blues, scoring five goals and 49 points in 1990-91. 

• Blues associate coach Mike Yeo compiled a 173-132-44 record as the Wild's head coach from 2011 until last February.

• Blues assistant coach Rick Wilson served in the same role with Minnesota from 2010 through the end of last season.

• Blues forward Kyle Brodziak spent six seasons in a Wild sweater (2009-15), scoring 169 points, including 72 goals in 446 games.


First Time for Everything
• Wild coach Bruce Boudreau will officially make his debut behind the team's bench. Boudreau has 409 career victories during nine seasons with the Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks. Stevens and assistant coach John Anderson will also be debuting.

• Wild center Eric Staal is suiting up in the Forest Green and Iron Range Red for the first time. Staal has 325 career goals and could play his 1,000th NHL game later this season.


At the Rink

After nearly six months without meaningful hockey, the Wild is back in action tonight when it opens the regular season against the St. Louis Blues. 

For Staal, who signed with the Wild on July 1, the day has been a long time coming.

"It feels like a long training camp, and then watching some of the games last night, kind of getting the season started, for us tonight, it's going to be great," Staal said. "I'm just looking forward to getting the ball rolling and having a great start to the season and going from there."

Tweet from @mnwild: #mnwild opening its season tonight in St. Louis. But first, a morning skate. �� ��� https://t.co/HkhHRHNleV pic.twitter.com/noLgiWUj0a

It's been four weeks since the start of training camp and much longer since players started trickling back into town to start on-ice training together in at Braemar Arena in Edina. 

"You think about it for a while," said Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk. "Camp always drags a little bit towards the end because you start looking forward to this first game. There's always a little bit of nerves on opening night but we've got an exciting season ahead of us."

The Wild aren't expected to make any adjustments to lines that have been featured in practice the past few days. Dubnyk will start in goal.

The Blues, who opened their season last night with a 5-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks, are expected to make a couple of adjustments. Forward Magnus Paajarvi will slot into the third-line left wing spot in place of Dmitrij Jaskin while defenseman Carl Gunnarsson will enter for Robert Bortuzzo.

St. Louis kept most of its most prominent players away from the rink this morning for additional rest. Goaltender Jake Allen, who made 17 saves in the win last night, is the expected starter again tonight.

"It's come in and play the game and not get too wound up, wasting the energy and wasting the day away and I think that's sometimes what happens," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. "There's a lot of energy in the city, the building, the atmosphere. Sometimes, you can get whipped up and burned out and waste a lot of it before you get going again."

Here are Thursday night's projected lineups:

WILD

Zach Parise - Eric Staal - Charlie Coyle

Mikael Granlund - Mikko Koivu - Jason Pominville

Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Chris Stewart

Jason Zucker - Zac Dalpe - Teemu Pulkkinen

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella - Matt Dumba

Mike Reilly - Jonas Brodin

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

BLUES

Robby Fabbri - Paul Stastny - Alexander Steen

David Perron - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Magnus Paajarvi - Patrik Berglund - Nail Yakupov

Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Kevin Shattenkirk

Joel Edmundson - Colton Parayko

Jake Allen

Carter Hutton

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