Well, we've finally seen the 'new and improved' Minnesota Wild. One question after the first game:
Does anyone still not believe that we don't have an improved hockey team?
The play of the team in last night's season opener vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets was the proverbial 'proof in the pudding' as the Wild played like Wild fans haven't seen in years. The first line pressed the attack all night. The second line actually was scoring. The third and fourth lines? Handled their assignments brilliantly.
The much-maligned defense, with three youngsters on the blue line? How does a goal and two assists and only two goals against (one well after the game was out of reach) sound to all the nay-sayers out there?
Yes, it was only the first game, and a raucous, sell-out full house (19,040) at the 'X' will be back for more, especially if the Wild continue to play like this. No second-period letdown. No shifts off. No stopping and rolling over, like Wild fans had been accustomed to the last two seasons. The only bad point in the game was the B.S. call the Wild incurred when Pierre-Marc Bouchard's stick found the face of Columbus' Matt Calvert, which might get PMB suspended for a few games. Of course, not to let the facts get in the way of a good story, Calvert high-sticked HIMSELF with Bouchard's stick when Calvert lifted his stick, which was under Bouchard's. Columbus head coach Scott Arniel supposedly was livid after the game over the incident, while his moribund team drops to 0-2 in the Central Division, where his team will probably be the only one in that division to NOT make the playoffs.
For the Wild, the road doesn't get any easier as they travel to Long Island and Ottawa (where Dany Heatley will be sure to get a rousing reception; Heatley, an ex-Senator, is soundly reviled in Ottawa from his playing days there) before returning home for three games, vs. Edmonton, Detroit and Pittsburgh.
Let's all see what the next week brings. Because the first week has been pretty darn good.