It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. This is all well and true, but sealing that first win of the season is always beneficial in the season opener. It builds good vibes and morale in the dressing room, along with providing good optics for the rest of the league to view on the standings sheet.
As the season opener for the 2020-21 season rapidly approaches, Minnesota has their sights on turning the tide on the recent struggles in season opening games.
The Wild are 1-4 in their last five season openers, and with this upcoming campaign being drastically shortened, there isn't a single game that can simply be let gone by the wayside if Minnesota wants to clinch a berth and hold prime seeding in the Stanley Cup Playoffs .
Minnesota’s last season opening win came all the way back in the 2015-16 season, a 5-4 slugfest over the rival Colorado Avalanche. But since then, the Wild have dropped four in a row and three of those contests haven't been close, on the scoreboard at least.
For example, a season ago, the Wild came out hot in the beginning of their first contest, taking a 2-1 lead into the final period, before sacrificing four goals to the Nashville Predators in the third to drop a rough 5-2 tilt. The result was only a microcosm of a dreadful first month and a half for the team.
The 2018-19 campaign saw a better start overall, as Minnesota went 6-2-2 in their first 10 contests, but still, the Wild were obliterated in that all-important first match by the Avalanche by a score of 4-1.
The previous season to that saw an opening 4-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on road ice.
A common thread there is sacrificing way too many goals, as it’s surely harder to win when three goals or more are scored by the opponents in a given contest. The Wild brought in goaltender Cam Talbot to help with their issues on the back end, which, on paper, would assist Minnesota in finding a faster start and being more successful.
A Different Season
Another aspect to consider is, the world is still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, and therefore the NHL offseason, amongst other facets, has been affected.
It will be indeed interesting to see how the Wild mesh as a unit from the beginning of the season with more new additions and a new captain in Jared Spurgeon.
Minnesota opens with a golden opportunity for a hot start, not just in their first contest, but in their first nine games, as each come against teams they are favored to beat in the LA Kings, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks.
Money Puck gives Minnesota a 52 percent chance of taking games one and two over the Kings, while giving the Wild a 56 percent chance of winning games three and four over the Ducks. The site gives Minnesota an even higher probability, 62 percent, in fact, of taking games eight and nine over San Jose.
Imagine that, the Wild with an 9-0 start to the season, which surely sounds quite sporty in our minds.
But it all starts with the first game, and while the aforementioned schedule shapes up nicely for a successful beginning, it doesn’t give Minnesota a free pass to begin with lackluster effort and results. Paper and reality are two completely different things.
With all of this considered, what do you feel are the biggest keys to opening the season on a successful note? How important do you feel a season opening victory would be? Let us know in the comments below.