The Minnesota Wild return to action tonight against the Colorado Avalanche. This will mark the beginning of the 2013 NHL season, a season sure to feel more like a sprint than a marathon. We're ready to cover 48 games in 12 days or so, and somehow not break our backs doing it.
The opponent tonight is a familiar one. The Avalanche haven't made major changes, unless you count P.A. Parenteau and Greg Zanon as major changes. The same threats exist from the Avs. Matt Duchene, Milan Hejduk, Paul Stastny, and Gabriel Landeskog remain the core, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Their defense is questionable, unless you need someone to throw flying elbows at your assistant captain, in which case, they have you covered with Erik Johnson. Getting the puck through the puck blocking machine you used to know as Zuperman will be a chore, but if you feel like running their goalie, feel free. No one is likely to stop you.
No word from Peter Forsberg on coming out of retirement, yet.
For the Wild, this marks a major step into the future. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter make their official Wild debuts, while rookie phenom Mikael Granlund makes his NHL debut. If Wild fans aren't spinning themselves into a fury of excitement, there likely is nothing that will get them there. This is, without a doubt, the biggest opening night in franchise history short of opening night in 2000.
How the Wild deal internally with these pressures and excitement will determine how they do tonight, and every night going forward. It's a short season, and there is no margin of error. Insert further cliches here.
The chapter about to unfold for the Wild is one that fans have been waiting for, and one that could either signal a franchise moving into relevancy. It all starts tonight against a division rival, and a game sure to hold some bad blood.
Should be a good time. We'll see you back here at 7. Don't be late.