Saturday, September 1, 2007

2007-08 Preseason Foreplay: Minnesota Wild

The new Wild jersey; "sheep's blood red".
NHL Tournament of Logos

Quick hits
  • As seen on The NHL Tournament of Logos Blog, the picture to your right shows the new Wild home jerseys for the upcoming season. They are supposed to be released next Friday.
  • The 104 points that the Wild earned last season were the most in franchise history. They also had the fewest goals allowed in the NHL, 191.
  • The Wild were second to last in the league in PIM as a team, with only 862 minutes. That's a full 595 minutes behind the league leaders, Anaheim Ducks.
  • The Wild's official website lists seven different players who wear the number zero. I feel like that could get really confusing. Maybe I'm wrong.
  • If you haven't heard, Derek Boogard runs a hockey camp that teaches kids to fight. No, really. He does.

Odds for the folks at gambler's

45 to 1: Derek Boogard teaches Marian Gaborik to fight, and it ends with Gaborik getting pummeled by Donald Brashear. Gaborik never plays an NHL game after that incident.

24 to 1: Sean Hill gives some of whatever he was having to Jacques Lemaire, and Lemaire challenges Alain Vigneault to a steel cage match. The winner of the match will take home the Northwest Division title. Halfway through, Mike Keenan intervenes and lays the smack down on their candy asses.

5 to 1: SI FanNation confuses Washington's Nicklas Backstrom and Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom at least three times this season.

Obligatory serious analysis

With the exception of the Manny Fernandez trade, I don't think any team in the NHL has had a quieter off season than the Minnesota Wild. The only other major move this summer has been the signing of goaltender Niklas Backstrom to a lucrative two-year, 6.2 million dollar deal. Consequently, the Wild have put all of this season's hopes and dreams on a 29-year old net minder who has played in exactly 41 NHL games. To his credit, Backstrom shared the Vezina Jennings Trophy with Fernandez this past season and posted a 23-8-6 record with a stunning 1.97 GAA. If Backstrom can build upon this success, the Wild are going to go places. If not, then it's going to be a long year in America's self proclaimed 'State of Hockey'.

Last season, Minnesota's defense was the best in the league, giving up the fewest goals of any team in the NHL. Obviously, a lot of that success can be credited to their Vezina Jennings winning net minders, but the skaters were no slouches, either. The Wild killed 86% of their penalties, which was the second best mark in the league. While their team save percentage was 13th in the NHL, the team's cumulative GAA led the league with an astounding 2.20. The Wild are basically returning all of their d-men from last season, and have added Sean Hill. Hill won't have much of an impact regardless of steroid usage, and will be more of a depth player for them. Still, a little depth never hurts.

All that being said, the Wild offense leaves room for improvement. The team finished 19th in the NHL in scoring, and hasn't added much to it's forwards. Petr Kalus in coming to Minnesota from Boston via the Fernandez trade, and it's safe to say he was the biggest offensive acquisition of the summer. Kalus is projected to be an impact player, presumably a top six forward, but is only 20 years old and has all of nine games of NHL experience under his belt. That's going to be the problem with Minnesota this season, it's going to be just about the same team they had last year. Yes, that should get them into the playoffs, but when your best season in franchise history is a 7th place finish in the conference, there should be a serious thirst for improvement there. For the moment, there isn't much of that. Down the road, Kalus and 2007 first round pick Colton Gillies should help move the franchise up the standings.

Prediction: The Wild are more or less the team teams as last year, and consequently, I think they'll sneak into the seventh spot again out West.

The best looking ice girls in Minnesota
I've searched the internets long and hard, and I'm starting to think that there are no female Wild fans out there. Substituting today is the University of Minnesota's Women's Gymnastics Team.

(C) U of Minnesota

Previous Editions of Preseason Foreplay


  1. Just FYI, Backstrom/Fernandez didn't get the Vezina, they got the Jennings; The Vezina hasn't been awarded for GAA since 81.

    Also, mark Feb. 26 on your calendar; on that date, SI FanNation's proverbial head will explode as Niklas Backstrom comes to Washington to face Nicklas Backstrom; I can only imagine what will happen if Nick gets a goal, I fear the universe may implode.

  2. eh... that's what happens when it's Saturday and I don't double check my work. Thanks for the heads up.

    Yes, I think we can safely say that day my be the end of the world. Shit.

  3. The UNIVERSITY of Minnesota women's gymnastics team? They seriously look like they're 10 or 12. Then again, most gymnasts do.