Wild winger Brandon Duhaime shines in NHL debut. Except for his rookie lap.

·3 min read

Oct. 17—LOS ANGELES — Wild winger Brandon Duhaime was weary of the rookie lap heading into his NHL debut. You know, the tradition throughout the league where a young player skates around by himself during warmups before the rest of his teammates finally join in.

The main objective during the rookie lap? Just don't fall.

So imagine how mortified Duhaime must've been on Friday night at Honda Center when he stepped on a puck during his rookie lap and crumbled to the ice.

"I swear (equipment manager Cliff Halstead) planted all those pucks out there," Duhaime said with a laugh on Saturday night before the Wild took on the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. "He put too many out there and it threw me off."

BRANDON DUHAIME WENT DOWN IN THE ROOKIE LAP DESTROY THAT STRAY PUCK RIGHT THIS INSTANT #mnwild pic.twitter.com/YKnQ5udJZQ

— Spoked Z (@SpokedZ) October 16, 2021

Luckily for Duhaime, the rest of his teammates were still in the tunnel when he fell. They had no idea it happened until he admitted it himself.

"I kind of kept it quiet for a little bit," Duhaime said. "Then I told one of the guys and it blew up from there."

While his blunder during warmups provided a good laugh in hindsight, Duhaime actually looked very comfortable throughout the game. He played alongside Nico Sturm and opposite Nick Bjugstad and used his speed to make an impact.

"He played terrific," coach Dean Evason said. "Just goes about his business, right?"

In that same breath, Evason compared Duhaime to hulking winger Marcus Foligno unprovoked. Needless to say, the 24-year-old rookie clearly made a good first impression.

Even better for Duhaime, the Wild earned a dramatic 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks, with Foligno netting the game-winner with 7.2 seconds left on the clock.

"It was awesome," Duhaime said. "That was really exciting and kind of put a cherry on top of a great game."

LIFE ON THE ROAD

It's only been a few days and the Wild can already tell life on the road is going to be different this season for fully vaccinated players. Those difference are especially noticeable in California where the COVID restrictions were extremely strict last season.

"It was back to our room and weren't allowed to eat together," captain Jared Spurgeon said. "To go for a regular meal with a bunch of guys, and sort of get away and watch the games whether it was football or baseball or hockey, that was nice."

That said, the Wild are also very understanding that they aren't out of the woods quite yet.

"It's still out there, so we want to be a little bit careful," Evason said. "But we'll have some dinners for sure."

TALBOT STARTS AGAIN

With the Wild playing the second half of a back-to-back on Saturday night, Evason went back to goaltender Cam Talbot between the pipes.

There was some speculation that backup Kaapo Kahkonen might get a look.

In the end, though, Talbot got the nod after recording 28 saves in a 2-1 win Friday night.

"We liked his game last night," Evason said before the Wild took on the Kings. "It's game by game. He played real well. He goes again."

IOWA WILD CAPTAINS

On Saturday afternoon, the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League announced that veteran Cody McLeod will serve as captain this season. Dakota Mermis, Mason Shaw, and Kyle Rau will serve as alternate captains.

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