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21 October 2007

Wild are kicking's that simple!

The Minnesota Wild have been on a tear since the start of the 2007-2008 season.

A 3-1 win in St. Louis against the Blues last night pushed Minnesota's record to an outstanding and a little surpising 6-0-1, to lead the Western Conference.

Centres Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Eric Belanger and winger Brian Rolston are all tied for their team's lead in points with 7 heading into Sunday night's matchup against the Colorado Avalanche.

What's surprising about the absolutely Wild run?

Their team has only 17 goals scored in 7 games...the lowest among all division leaders in the NHL...but that isn't unexpected, as Jacques Lemaire's squad tends to focus more on the defensive side of things rather than potting goals in the other end despite having a guy like Marion Gaborik on their front (who is not doing so hot to start the year).

Lemaire and the fans can thank veteran 'tender Nicklas Backstrom for their league low 9 goals against to start the year; the 29-year old Finn has posted phenomenal numbers in his first season as the undisputed number one after the Wild parted ways with Manny Fernandez this summer with 4 of the team's 6 wins, a 1.38 average and a 0.945 SPCT% that are amongst the top 3 in each respective category.

And to add insult to injury for opposing teams, the Wild lead the league in home shutouts with 2 (both from Backstrom) to go along with 3 straight home wins and are the only team in the NHL that have yet to lose a game in regulation on home ice.
They tied the Detroit Red Wings for home victories in 2006-2007 with an astonishing 29.

The new guy in Minny, centre Eric Belanger, says the team has the city's fans to thank for their recent success at home:

"You have the Canadian cities that are pretty loud, but after that, this is top-five in the league for sure."

Belanger has clicked well with linemates Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Brian Rolston, all are tied for the team lead in points.

But one can wonder how much longer the Wild can hold back Josh Harding from taking over as the number one goalie for the team after several succesful seasons in Houston and Minnesota.
Things are looking bright for Minnesota in goal, especially with Backstrom holding the fort with his bulletproof numbers and Josh Harding pressing for playing time with a convincing 37-save shutout effort against the defending Stanley Cup Champs Ducks in his season debut one week ago.

Petr Kalus, highly-touted scoring prospect acquired from the Bruins in the Manny Fernandez deal, did not make the club out of training camp and has been melting away with the team's minor-league club Aeros in the AHL.
Kalus has yet to show why the Bruins and then Wild were so hot about his scoring potential, after potting 4 goals in only 9 games with Boston last season.

But don't forget Minnesota's fast start to the previous campaign did not last, and one can only hope that it will for the sake of hockey and its great fans in Midwestern Minnesota.

No matter which way you look at it, the Wild seem poised for great only if Marion Gaborik would wake up and do what we think he could do best for a team that is goal-hungry in a city waiting for the rise from mediocrity too long.


2 fanatics have replied:

JD FLYGUY said...

you can add the Flyers to a couple of those stat categories -

the Flyers also have not lost in regulation at home

they also have 2 home shutouts (back to back actually)

just a friendly reminder that my team is doing well!! pardon me, i'm excited :)

Shane Giroux said...

They kept kickin' ass tonight too against the Avalanche. But hey, at least the Avs got a couple past Backstrom ;)

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