Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Preseason Thoughts/Disclaimers

Last night, I was able to attend the Wild's first preseason game against Columbus. The Wild lost 3-1, and did not look their best but keep in mind several top players were not on the ice (Koivu, Parise, Suter, etc.). Here are a few thoughts I had from last night's EXHIBITION game:

  • Mikael Granlund was noticeably quicker last night than at any point last season. He made some good plays and had a little more physicality to his game. Granlund notched an assist on the teams lone goal.
  • Mike Yeo raved about Nino Niederreiter after the game last night and for good reason too. Nino was a formidable presence out front of the Columbus net, and created some great goal scoring opportunities for the team. Nino scored the team's lone goal on the power play as he cleaned up a rebound out front of the net. Its been a long time since the Wild had a great presence out front of the net. Could Nino finally be that presence?
  • Matt Cooke had a nice night, drawing a penalty late in the third while just being his usual re-invented self. Yup, I had to mention Matt Cooke here.
  • Marco Scandella had a terrible night. Just never looked comfortable at all. Complete opposite of what we saw from him in the postseason. With Matt Dumba playing well so far in camp, Scandella needs to get it together quickly or he will be watching games from the press box this season.
  • Everyone's favorite AHL player Justin Fontaine did not have a great night. He seemed to have opening night jitters which caused him to whiff on a few shots and give the puck away more often than he should. Still is hard to think that Fontaine makes this team.
One final note/disclaimer: Last night was an EXHIBITION game. I have put it in all caps and bold font to reiterate the point I am trying to get across here. Fans at Xcel Energy Center reverted to their usual yelling of "SHOOOOOOT!" when on the power play and then proceeded to boo the club when the power play was the first period. Come on folks, this was a EXHIBITION game. Since when did we become the second coming of Philadelphia?! This game did not count for anything and it gave the coaches a good look at how some of the young prospects can fare against other teams in this league. 

I guess we have officially tossed the "Minnesota nice" motto out the door. 

(Programming Note: Starting tomorrow we will preview the new divisions in the NHL as we countdown to the beginning of the new season.)

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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