Fresh off giving Chicago its first loss of the season, the Minnesota Wild are in Anaheim to take on the Ducks.
Let me get it out of my system before we go on: I LOVE ZACH PARISE. All better.
First, some news: At practice on Thursday, the Ducks are tried out a new second line combination of Ricky, Bobby, Selanne. (Get it?!) Rookie Rickard Rakell has bumped Nick Bonino from the second line center position between Bobby Ryan and Teemu Selanne. Bonino was fast but Rakell is a much better skater and puck handler. Hopefully this will spark this line
On Friday night, the Minnesota Wild come to town a day removed from giving the Chicago Blackhawks their first loss of the season, albeit in a shoot out, it's still a pretty big deal. This team isn't yo' mama's Minnesota Wild. They have incredible offense and at some points, shady defense. Sound familiar?
We're one big family here at SBNation. In preparation for tonight's duel, I asked Bryan Reynolds, editor at Hockey's Wilderness, three(ish) questions to get us ready for the game
BR: Parise, yes. Suter, not yet. Parise is something that Wild fans have never seen before. Heck, Minnesota sports fans have never seen someone like this before. Parise is a superstar that never stops working. He is always on the puck, always moving, always working. Sure, the Wild have had guys like that, but not guys like that who can score from anywhere. The guy is flat out good.
Suter has been slower to come around. Tons of excuses are being thrown around, everything from the system to no preseason to blah blah blah. The guy makes $7.5 million a year. He will make $7.5 million a year for the next 13 years. He can't have forgotten how to play hockey, right? The real shocker game when Mike Yeo paired Suter with Jonas Bordin, rookie, and Suter's game improved. Who knew all it would take was to be paired with a guy with 3 NHL games played?
JN: Considering the money spent, if the Wild don't - at least - make the Stanley Cup final, do you consider the season a failure? Where do you think you guys will end up?
BR: The Finals are still a ways off, in reality. Parise and Suter make it possible, but not probable. Teams like the Rangers, Penguins, Sharks, Kings... they're just so good. The Wild are improved, and will only get better with the prospects coming up, but right now, just making the playoffs would make fans here happy. I think they finish 6th in the west, and maybe steal the first round against someone like the Canucks.
JN: The Ducks had the sixth pick in the 2012 draft, the Wild had the seventh. 98.784% of us were pretty sure we were going to take Matthew Dumba and we didn't. Are you happy he fell to you guys? When do you think he'll be NHL ready? Had you heard of Hampus Lindholm until we drafted him?
BR: The level of talent available in the 2012 draft on the blue line was ridiculous. We had Dumba on our list, but when Filip Forsberg was still available, we thought that was an absolute no-brainer. Wild Assistant GM Brent Flahr (I think he did a bit of work in Anaheim) is never to be questioned when it comes to the draft. We learned that lesson with Brodin. No one thought Brodin was any good. Watch him closely tonight. The kid has it. The total package. Remember he is only 19.
Back to Dumba. We could not be more pleased he fell to the Wild, and that Flahr stuck to his list. Dumba is going to be special, for sure. A cannon of a shot, hard hitting, positionally solid, and his skating is as smooth as silk. Patience is the key with prospects, but Wild fans are certainly excited about Dumba.
And yes, we had heard of Hampus. With a name like that, he sticks out on your draft list.We had him going 13th, but we had a number of d-men that could have been interchangable.