Throughout training camp, Wilde coach Dean Iveson has preached the importance of getting an NHL group together as quickly as possible.
This is why Wilde has cut so sharply over the past few weeks.
This has allowed the coaching staff to deftly implement the system with the October 15 season opener against the Anaheim Ducks. This has allowed the coaching staff to have a more tailored assessment on some of the ongoing roster battles.
Still, as good as practice has been over the past week, as Evans noted over the weekend, the sport is nothing compared to the action. Which is what made Monday’s preseason game between Wilde and the rival Colorado Avalanche so intriguing.
Here are some observations of that game:
This is the first time this season that Wilde has seen the top half of his lineup in action. That Joel Eriksson is the one who centers the first row of Kirill Kaprizov and Matt Zucarello, and Ryan Hartman centers the second row of Jordan Greenaway and Marcus Foligno.
Considering the Kaprizov-Eriksson Ek-Zuccarello line in particular, it generated a decent amount of scoring opportunities, while controlling the puck for longer stretches. Oh, and Kaprizov scored a beautiful goal, giving home a pinpoint pass from Zucarello.
Meanwhile, the Greenway-Hartmann-Foligno line was the best trio on the ice for the wild. That line not only brought the kind of physicality that Evans wants to see, it proved capable of attacking the other side at a moment’s notice.
While it’s dangerous to make broad announcements in the pre-season, Wilde looks to be in good shape when it comes to his top lines.
Kevin Fiala looked like a man on a mission during Monday’s game. He was as dynamic on the offensive end as ever, and perhaps more impressively, he contributed to the defensive end with some reps on the penalty kill.
This is a testament to the fact that Fiala has consistently remained an all-round player. He preached its importance on the first day of the training camp and has followed till now.
As for her classmates, Fiala played in the game with Freddy Goudreau and with Victor Rusk. The trio has been together several times during training camps.
It will be interesting to see if the coaching staff try a few more players with Fiala at some point. He played with top prospect Matt Boldy earlier this season.
Marco Rossi was not in the lineup for Monday’s game, and while Evans confirmed he will play this weekend, it looks like the 20-year-old center is looking at the outside to get the team out of training camp.
There are clearly some players ahead of Rossi in the pecking order, including Boldy, Adam Beckmann and Brandon Duhaime.
As tricky as Rossi is on the surface, he could benefit from playing a few games with the American Hockey League’s Iowa Wild. Remember, he missed all the previous seasons as he recovered from COVID complications.