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Wild Warmup: Minnesota at Pittsburgh

Wild begins three-game trip against defending Stanley Cup champions Thursday

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /
The Essentials
Puck drop: 6:08 p.m. CT
Watch: FOX Sports North; FOX Sports GOWild Watch Bar LocationsNHL.TV

Listen: KFAN 100.3 FM

Follow: @mnwild; GameCenter

The Opponent

The defending Stanley Cup champions enter Thursday's game red hot, going 6-0-1 over their past seven games, a stretch that included a trip to the west coast and a 5-0 win over San Jose in a rematch of last spring's Stanley Cup Final. Goaltender Matt Murray has returned from an injury and picked up where he left off during the playoffs, winning three straight games and allowing just four goals in that span. Sidney Crosby has also overcome an injury early in the season and has eight goals and 10 points in seven games.


• Penguins forward Matt Cullen, a former Moorhead Spud and St. Cloud State Husky, played three seasons with the Wild from 2010-13, scoring 33 goals and 101 points in 193 games.

Back at it

The Wild played just one game in the past eight days, but it will begin a stretch of 10 games in 17 days on Thursday. Minnesota, which has not played since losing 1-0 in Colorado on Saturday, will not have two days off between games until Nov. 29. 

At the Rink

Of all the teams and all the places to make your NHL debut, Wild forward Zack Mitchell is expected to do so against perhaps the League's most talented team in one of the hardest places to win. 

"This is kind of like a dream come true," Mitchell said. "[I want] to prepare like this is any other game and try to go out and help my team win the game however they need me to."

Mitchell said his pregame routine of grabbing a bite to eat and taking a nap won't change, although closing his eyes this afternoon might not be as easy as it has been in the past.

"Might be a little more difficult, but I'll do my best," Mitchell said. "If it doesn't happen, that's okay."

Mitchell, who grew up near Toronto, has been a nice find for the Wild. Undrafted out of the Ontario Hockey League, he scored 17 goals in 76 games with Iowa two seasons ago and led Minnesota's AHL affiliate with 22 goals and 42 points in 70 games last season.

A sprained ankle sustained just before camp robbed him of the opportunity to compete for a roster spot with Minnesota and he spent the first few games in Iowa this season rounding back into form.

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau spoke with Iowa coach Derek Lalonde on Tuesday and Lalonde reported back that Mitchell has been the team's best player the last handful of games.

Mitchell said that's when he's started to feel like he was back to 100 percent.

"I wasn't feeling 100 percent the first five or six games down there, but Derek Lalonde was really patient with me," Mitchell said. "He did a great job giving me some time and I was able to get back into game shape.

"The last five or six games, I've been feeling really good. The last couple weeks, I've felt more like myself."

Mitchell should skate on the third line with Jason Zucker and center Erik Haula, who is expected to return to the lineup after missing the past seven games with a foot injury.

Here are the projected lineups:


Nino Niederreiter - Eric Staal - Charlie Coyle

Mikael Granlund - Mikko Koivu - Jason Pominville

Jason Zucker - Erik Haula - Zack Mitchell

Joel Eriksson Ek - Tyler Graovac - Chris Stewart

Ryan Suter - Matt Dumba

Mike Reilly - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Christian Folin

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper


Carl Hagelin - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist

Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - Phil Kessel

Conor Sheary - Nick Bonino - Bryan Rust

Scott Wilson - Matt Cullen - Eric Fehr

Brian Domoulin - Kris Letang

Olli Maatta - Trevor Daley

Ian Cole - Justin Schultz

Marc-Andre Fleury

Matt Murray

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