NHL on NBCSN: Kings and Wild open season in St. Paul
A pair of Western Conference playoff teams from last season kick off their year against each other (8 p.m. ET). About all they have in common is losing to Chicago in last year’s postseason.
Los Angeles and Minnesota kick off their seasons with high hopes for the Stanley Cup. The Kings are hoping to reclaim what they lost to Chicago last season while the Wild are hoping they learned a lesson after being bounced out in the first round in five games.
While the Kings come in with virtually the same roster they had last season (with a few exceptions), the Wild have had an overhaul of sorts. Out are Devin Setoguchi, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and Cal Clutterbuck and in are Matt Cooke, Nino Niederreiter, and Keith Ballard.
Minnesota also packs in a few younger faces, some familiar from last year. Charlie Coyle impressed last season and looks to build off that while Justin Fontaine and possibly Matt Dumba look to prove they can stick around.
With Mikko Koivu, Ryan Suter, Zach Parise, and Jason Pominville, the Wild can score plenty as the team looks to keep an unbeaten record in home openers at Xcel Energy Center. They’ve gone 11-0-0 since a 3-3 tie with Philadelphia in 2000. Not bad.
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For the Kings, they look to fix themselves up on the road. Fun fact: They’ve lost 15 of their last 16 on the road going back to last season, 10 of 11 in the postseason. After being road warriors in their Stanley Cup-winning season, they couldn’t be any worse away from L.A. last year.
The cast is familiar though with Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Drew Doughty, and Jonathan Quick leading the way. Quick looks to get his season off to a bang to prove he can lead the way for Team USA in the Olympics. Detroit’s Jimmy Howard got off to a nice start last night beating Buffalo 2-1.
For the Wild, the Kings provide an instant measuring stick to see where they stand to start the year. Los Angeles, meanwhile, hopes to put a blemish on Minnesota’s home opener record.