Thursday, October 9, 2014

Wild GameDay 10/9/2014

Wild Game Day 10/9/2014 Game#1
                        Minnesota Wild (0-0-0-0) vs Colorado Avalanche (0-0-0-0) 8:00PM (NBCS)

Avs projected line combos (courtesy Mike Chambers, The Denver Post):
Gabriel Landeskog-Ryan O’Reilly-Nathan McKinnon
Alex Tanguay-Matt Duchene-Jarome Arhtur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla
Jamie McGinn-Daniel Briere-Max Talbot
Cody McCleod-Marc-Andre Cliché-Dennis Everberg

Brad Stuart-Erik Johnson
Nick Holden-Tyson Barrie
Jan Hejda-Nate Guenin
Goalie:  Semyon Varlamov

Wild projected line combos (courtesy Michael Russo, Startribune)
Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville
Matt Cooke-Mikko Koivu-Thomas Vanek
Nino Niederreiter-Erik Haula-Charlie Coyle
Jason Zucker-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Carter

Ryan Suter-Jonas Brodin
Marco Scandella-Jared Spurgeon
Matt Dumba- Christian Folin

Goalie:  Darcy Kuemper

The Minnesota Wild host the Colorado Avalanche in the 2014 Season Opener for both teams.  This is the first leg of a home-and-home series that concludes in Denver on Saturday Night.  The Wild came back from a 2-0 deficit to eliminate the Avalanche in Game Seven of the Western Conference Quarterfinal round of the 2014 NHL Playoffs.  NHL rivalries are born from playoff series, and last year’s Opening Round was a doozy.  A turning point of the series occurred in the early moments of the 2nd period in Game 3.  Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie was the recipient of a nasty knee-on-knee hit courtesy of the Wild’s Matt Cooke.  Barrie, the Avs’ best puck-moving defenseman, was knocked out of the rest of the series with a sprained knee.  For his part, Cooke received a 7-game suspension.  One of this weekend’s interesting story lines will be to see if the Avs try to extract their pound of flesh from Cooke.  I’d be shocked if they didn’t.  Cody McCleod and Steve Downie will be leading candidates to play vigilante for Colorado, as chief knuckle-dragger Patrick Bordeleau begins the year on injured reserve due to off-season back surgery.   

The Wild open the season with unquestionably the highest expectations in the 14-year history of the franchise.  Hoping to find the right mix of grizzled veterans and talented youngsters, the Wild is looking to build on last year’s taste of playoff success.  30 year-old Thomas Vanek makes the longest-awaited free-agent debut in NHL history tonight.  Darcy Kuemper gets the nod between the pipes.  The Wild would love either Kuemper or veteran Niklas Backstrom step up and carry the load as the number one goaltender.  The paring of promising youngsters Matt Dumba and Christian Folin will also be unveiled for the Wild.  Newly signed White Bear Lake product Ryan Carter also makes his first Wild appearance.          

The “Post-Paul Stastny Era” begins tonight for Colorado.  The Avs have a high-profile free agent of their own debuting tonight in Jarome Iginla.  The all-time Wild killer (37G, 67A career vs Wild) is back in the same division as his favorite opponent.  Opening Night proved to be an interesting one for the Avs last year.  Rookie bench-boss Patrick Roy used the waning moments of a 6-1 drubbing of visiting Anaheim to make an interesting statement to his young team:


However contrived and calculated this may have been on  Roy’s part, it sure seemed to galvanize the Avs.  It sent a clear message that their coach was going to battle for them, and Opening Night served as  a springboard for one of the league’s biggest surprises last season.  Will Roy have any rallying cry tricks up his sleeve in St. Paul tonight?  Or perhaps in Denver on Saturday night?      
Hockey is back.  Oh, how you've been missed...        


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