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Wild Warmup: Minnesota at Winnipeg

Wild head north for third preseason game in four days

by Minnesota Wild @mnwild /

Check back throughout the day as the Wild preps for tonight's preseason game at Winnipeg.

Those traveling north of the border had the morning to rest up for tonight's 7 p.m. face-off, so today's training camp practice -- No. 7 of the year -- featured the rest of Minnesota's training camp roster. The exceptions were forward Marc Hagel and defenseman Zach Palmquist, who were added to the travel lineup this morning before practice.

Tonight's game will air on NHL Network and be broadcast on KFAN 100.3, including live streaming via iHeart Radio.

Darcy Kuemper gets his first preseason start in net, and forward Erik Haula will make his 2016 preseason debut.

The lineup is a little lighter after the Wild assigned nine players Wednesday and six players today. That brings the roster to 42 players.

Battles for spots with the NHL club have begun to intensify

Tweet from @mnwild: Boudreau on tonight: "This is the third look at some guys and it's important they make a positive impression on us." #mnwild

Minnesota is 1-1 this preseason after beating Buffalo on Jason Zucker's last second goal Monday at Penn State, then losing 4-1 at home to Colorado. The Jets are 0-1 with a shutout loss Tuesday against Calgary.

Historically, the Wild is 6-1-0 in preseason contests but struggled head-to-head against Winnipeg last season. The Jets won four of five matchups, but Minnesota edged Winnipeg and a handful of other teams for a Western Conference Wild Card playoff spot.

Jets right wing Nikolaj Ehlers, who's in the lineup tonight, had two goals and two assists against the Wild last season.

For Minnesota, rookie Alex Tuch is one of three forwards who will play their third game in four days. After leading Minnesota with three points in the Traverse City Prospects Tournament earlier this month, Tuch shared with his thoughts on trying to make the NHL roster.

Another player seeking to impress is American Hockey League veteran Pat Cannone. He'll dress against Winnipeg.

There's another contest at 7 p.m. tonight -- Game 2 of the World Cup of Hockey, featuring Team Europe and Wild forward Nino Niederreiter. Europe trails the best-of-three series 1-0 and needs a victory against Canada to force Game 3 on Saturday.

Tweet from @mnwild: Win or go home tonight. @TeamEUR_WCH faces Canada at 7 p.m. on @ESPN 2. #WCH2016

On the home front, Minnesota spent a good chunk of Thursday's practice working on the power play. Coach Bruce Boudreau said the Wild's power play groups are mostly solidified, with Zach Parise, Eric Staal, Charlie Coyle, Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon comprising the top unit. Mikko Koivu worked between Chris Stewart and Mikael Granlund on Thursday's second power play faction, and some combination of Jonas Brodin, Mike Reilly and Matt Dumba are expected to man the blue line. Boudreau also said Granlund or Pominville will work in defensive spots in case they're called upon.

Video: Bruce Boudreau talks after practice at Ridder Arena

"We used two units on the power play that, who knows, could be very close to the units that you start with in the season," Boudreau said. "We'll be practicing this every day. At least the regular season, special teams are vital to how high up in the standings you are. In the playoffs, sometimes you can get away with a sputtering power play, but not a sputtering penalty kill. But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it."

Recently returned from the World Cup, Suter spoke about getting familiar with the new coaching staff, including legendary NHL defenseman Scott Stevens. Even entering his 12th NHL season, Suter said there's plenty to learn when Stevens stops practice to offer detailed instruction like he did Thursday.

"You never know it all," Suter said, "and if you think you do, you've got an issue.

"That was the first conversation we had: he even said he's excited to learn from me, and I'm excited to learn from him. You can tell that it's going to be a good relationship, not just for me but for all the (defensemen)."

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