Great goaltending, strong steady defense and a potent offense have let the Minnesota Wild jump to a 7-2-1 start. All this without their star winger Marian Gaborik who’s been sidelined for the last five games with what’s been called a “lower body” injury. No matter because the line of Mikko Koivu and Andrew Burnette has surely picked up the offensive slack with their line scoring a combined 34 points to date. Lemaire is drooling at the idea of the return of Gaborik and another line that can put up those types of numbers.
It hasn’t been all offense by a long shot for the Wild. The defense has sparkled due in large part to the off-season trades for Marek Zidlicky and Marc Andre Bergeron. Their experience and leadership have inspired the youngsters on the team to play tight and smart hockey in their zone. They lead the league in GA with 22 and more impressively in penalty kills where they went 24-24 until being beat by Matt Niskanen of the Stars last Wednesday night.
The fans in Minnesota are super excited about the Wild this year. That they’re playing this well without Gaborik shows depth and maturity. It also allows others to shine in the spotlight (like Brunette and Koivu) and with that comes confidence and a deeper hunger to succeed. This team is very much a contender this year, as is any team that’s being coached by Jacque Lamaire.