As I sat down on my sofa Friday to watch the Minnesota Wild Home Opener, I couldn’t help but feel a little nervous and skeptical of the 2008-2009 Minnesota Wild. On paper, it appeared as though they had taken a step backwards at a crucial time for the franchise. I wasn’t sure how this scoring starved franchise was going to replace the scoring of Demitra & Rolston. I was worried that the franchise was relying too much on their homegrown young talent. Most of all, I was concerned that the 2008-2009 team would lack an identity.
Luckily, what I witnessed was a Wild team that appears to be faster, better skaters, better passers and extremely confident in its approach. Eric Belanger seems to have picked up a step and is playing with much more confidence than last year. Brent Burns seems to have continued his rise into a premier NHL defenseman. Niklas Backstrom picked up where he left last year as an “iron Curtain” in front of the net. The addition of Marc-Andre Bergeron has added some much need defensive speed and puck moving ability. Most importantly, for the first time in franchise history, the players didn’t seem to simply wait for Marian Gaborik do something. Instead, they all played with intensity while relying on their own abilities in the victory. I just hope that this isn’t a sign that they know it is inevitable that Gaborik will be traded.