Dane Mizutani / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL — Matt Read was surprised to say the least when he walked into the Wild locker room Thursday, Oct. 18. After being called up from the minors a day earlier, Read figured he would join the NHL team and fill a role near the bottom of the lineup. But that's not what the 32-year-old veteran winger is here to do. He will be skating on the top line alongside Eric Staal and opposite Jason Zucker. That's quite the promotion for someone practicing with the Iowa Wild earlier this week.
ST. PAUL—Anyone who knows Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk knows he never thinks about carrying the team on his back. "I don't do that," he said. "I just go out there and focus on the things I need to do." Whether Dubnyk sees it or not, that has translated to carrying the team on his back. While the Wild have been slow out of the starting blocks, Dubnyk is in midseason form.
ST. PAUL — Seven months removed from reconstructive surgery on his left knee, top prospect Luke Kunin is holding his own with the Iowa Wild down on the farm. He played 20 minutes in the 4-3 shootout victory over the Texas Stars on Friday, Oct. 12, according Iowa coach Tim Army, and flashed some of the potential that made him a first-round pick in the 2016 NHL draft.
EAGAN, Minn. — To the shock of most of his teammates, Kirk Cousins barreled into the pregame huddle a couple of weeks ago with the Vikings ready to run onto the field for kickoff against the Philadelphia Eagles. "I'm changing it up today!" Cousins screamed. "I've got it, guys!" With everyone's eyes fixated on him, the 30-year-old quarterback ripped off his helmet, fixed his hair, and dove headfirst into a passionate 30-second sermon. The son of a preacher, he mixed fire and fury with a few choice words (sorry, Dad) following his grand entrance.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau was careful with his words following Thursday's 4-3 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks. While the coach emphatically agreed when asked whether he thought it was the best that star defenseman Ryan Suter has looked since returning from a broken right ankle, he jokingly backtracked a few seconds after giving his initial answer. "Well, I don't want to say by far, because then he'll get mad at me," Boudreau said with a laugh. "It was his best game."
ST. PAUL — Never afraid to tinker with his line combinations whether it's during a practice on during a game, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau swears there's a method to the madness, though he sometimes struggles to explain himself "I don't know," the 63-year-old coach said with a smile. "Everything is about feel when we're on the bench."
ST. PAUL — After being inactive and watching from afar as the Wild managed just two goals in their first two games, speedy winger J.T. Brown finally will hit the ice for his hometown team during Thursday, Oct. 11's game against the Chicago Blackhawks. It will be his first game rocking a Wild sweater, a special moment for the 28-year-old Burnsville, Minn., native. "I'm pretty excited," he said after the morning skate. "I've just got to kind of keep (my emotions) in check and try not to do too much."
ST. PAUL — Sometimes it's easy to forget that Joel Eriksson Ek is only 21 years old. After being taken with the No. 20 overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft — three spots ahead of Burnsville, Minn., native and University of North Dakota standout Brock Boeser, who already has developed into a bonafide sniper — the baby-faced Eriksson Ek has become a recognizable name in the Twin Cities the past few seasons. He teased the Wild with his show of skills during a 15-game cup of coffee in 2016-17, then worked his way into the lineup last season.
ST. PAUL — No. It's not time to push the panic button on the Wild. Not yet. That's the feeling in the locker room despite a dismal offensive performance that has produced just two goals in two games. "We are 0-1-1," forward Jason Zucker said, downplaying the fact that the Wild offense has stalled out of the gates. "We aren't out of the playoffs or anything like that. We obviously have some things we need to work on. We just need to make sure we realize that we're a good team. We're going to be just fine."
ST. PAUL — All Zach Parise can do is laugh when he thinks about how much different he feels 365 days later. As the Wild prepped for Thursday's season opener against the rival Colorado Avalanche, they did so with the $98 million man operating at 100 percent, which certainly wasn't the case last season. "It is night and day," Parise said. "Let's just say at this time last season, I knew I wasn't going to be playing for a long time."