Well that didn’t take long. After sitting out the Minnesota Wild’s home opener against the Los Angeles Kings, it appears very likely that 2012 7th overall pick Mathew Dumba will make his NHL debut tonight. In addition, his parents were flown in by the team earlier in the week to see their son play for the first time in the best league on the planet. Pretty powerful, when you think about all the emotions swimming through the minds of both Matt and his parents.
Not to get too sentimental, but it appears the Wild are giving Dumba his moment in the sun. After practice this morning, his teammates told him to lead the center-ice team stretch in what Star Tribune beat writer Michael Russo called, “a neat scene”.
“They’ve all been great,” said Dumba, adding that they had also said to “just go out and play my game and just have fun. I’ve been playing this game since I was little and just relax and be myself out there.”
Dumba, likely to be paired with left-shot Keith Ballard on the third pairing, added “I’m just thankful that my opportunity has come along. Now I’m just going to go out there and work my hardest and do whatever it takes to stay around.”
If he goes out and plays his game, he’ll be fine. He’s got a number of factors going for him. For instance, while it may be his debut, it won’t have the nerve-wracking intensity of Thursday’s home opener. Also, one of the game’s all-time greats, Teemu Selanne, won’t be in the lineup. Nor will dynamic 2010 29th overall pick Emerson Etem. So there are two less superbly talented forwards for Dumba to worry about in his debut. If I remember correctly, it was Selanne that scored the first career goal against on Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper last season.
Speaking of talented forwards, expect a rebound performance from second line center Charlie Coyle–and really, what was there to rebound from the other night? Coyle had a dominant game, aside from a few small rookie mistakes, one arguably costing Minnesota the win. That really ate away at him, though, as made evident in a tweet by Russo this morning.
Charlie Coyle had solid opener but told Mike Yeo he didn't sleep after bc of mistake on tying goal. Another reason #mnwild respect this kid
— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) October 5, 2013
If all of Minnesota’s youngsters take the game this seriously, this team is set up for years of success.
Follow Dakota Case at Twitter.com/Dakota_case