A few days ago the Wild ventured to the hostile confines of MTS Center with their "JV-squad" of 2nd and 4th liners along with a cadre of NHL hopefuls going up against Winnipeg's "Varsity squad". Recipe for disaster right? Wrong, the Wild's JV team more than held its own as it peppered the Jets' Al Montoya with shots as they rolled to a 4-1 victory. Some Wild players are making a statement pretty early in the pre-season so far as Mikael Granlund has been a bright spot the last two games. Wild newcomer Nino Niederreiter has also played well and seems to make a lot of good things happen on the ice. Charlie Coyle had a strong game as did hopefuls Erik Haula and Justin Fontaine. As Minneapolis Star Tribune's Wild beat writer Michael Russo correctly stated, the solid performances of these young forwards is going force the Wild to have to make some tough choices, but that's a good thing. This is what Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher as well as Assistant GM Brent Flahr have wanted all along through the draft and college free agency. To have a pipeline of talent that would keep the team well stocked and pushing itself to be its best. But it wasn't just the kids impressing, Kyle Brodziak was a beast in Thursday's tilt.
The Jets were not happy with how they performed and there was the chippiness you'd expect from a budding rival towards the end of the game. Evander Kane, a player Wild fans will likely grow to hate spent a lot of time yapping and trying to goad Wild players into fights. Although when challenged by Stephane Veilleux the young Jets star declined. The Jets will no doubt be seeking a little vengeance tonight as they face the Wild's "varsity squad" which is playing in its first pre-season game. So what should fans expect to see?
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Wild lineup vs. Jets
Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Jason Pominville
Dany Heatley-Mikael Granlund-Nino Niederreiter
Erik Haula-Charlie Coyle-Justin Fontaine
Zenon Konopka-David Steckel-Jake Dowell
Ryan Suter-Jonas Brodin
Jared Spurgeon-Marco Scandella
Keith Ballard-Clayton Stoner
Niklas Backstrom-Johan Gustafsson
The Jets are going with most of their big guns too, with Dustin Byfuglien and Blake Wheeler, team captain Andrew Ladd, Mark Stuart, Bryan Little, Mark Schiefele, Tobias Enstrom and between the pipes they will have incumbant starter Ondrej Pavelec. Young Jets' prospect Jake Trouba will also be playing tonight. I expect it will be a spirited game and I hope the Wild's top guns perform as dominantly as they did at their intersquad scrimmages.
Jake Dowell featured on E: 60
ESPN, America's Sports Leader (I understand hockey fans you probably chaffe at me saying that) covers all kinds of sports stories and E: 60 covers the kinds of less heralded human stories that transcends the game. Their most recent feature is on Wild farm hand Jake Dowell. Here is sort of a spoiler on his story which talks about his father's battle with Huntington's Disease and his own fear that he may have it himself (he has a 50% chance of having it).