FRIDAY’S STORY LINES:Excitement. Anticipation. Those were words used frequently in the Wild locker room Friday afternoon. After a 119-day lockout, Wild players are eager to get on the ice for their highly anticipated season opener Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche.
The offseason acquisitions of top free agents Ryan Suter and Zach Parise have made the opener an even bigger event for Wild fans. When Parise and Suter slip on their jerseys for the first time, it will have been 199 days since they signed identical 13-year, $98 million contracts.
“We have all been waiting around long enough,” Parise said Friday. “We all have a lot of energy ready to go in a smart way. We are all excited to play. It has been a lot of waiting around and a lot of I guess contained energy.”
Parise expects the crowd to be electric.
“I think we are all looking forward to the excitement and energy of the building,” he said. “That was impressive on Wednesday (during a scrimmage), and you can probably double that what is going to be like tomorrow night. So it is going to be a pretty cool atmosphere in here.”
Despite the shortened training camp and all the new faces, coach Mike Yeo already likes the chemistry and character of his team.
“One extremely important thing for me if we want to get to where we want to get to is it is a group that cares about each other, and this is a very close group,” Yeo said. “This is a group that I am quite certain will go out and put the team first.”
A large number of Wild players skated together in Minnesota during the lockout, and Parise believes that bodes well for team chemistry.
“We have a little bit of an advantage being we have skated together so long before camp even started. Hopefully that will pay off now,” Parise said. “We have guys that get along really well, and that goes a long way on the ice.”
INJURY UPDATE: Defenseman Tom Gilbert, who left Wednesday’s scrimmage and did not practice Thursday, will be in Saturday’s lineup against Colorado. With Gilbert healthy, rookie Mathew Dumba will be a healthy scratch tomorrow.
HE SAID IT: “The lines of communication are going to have to be open at the time this year. I want the players making sure that they come to us and that they talk about it and we are going to go to them and likewise the trainers. But, having said that, shame on us if we can’t figure it out on our own, too. What kind of game it is, how much ice time players have gotten. There are a lot of things that come into play, and usually we have a pretty good feel for that sort of stuff.” — Mike Yeo on determining when his team needs rest during the short season