Minnesota's in the Middle

All things Minnesota politics

Monday, September 03, 2007

Since politics is in a lull

I might as well make this more and more of a hockey blog.

The end of the state fair has always represented the sadness of the end of the summer, but the excitement of the upcoming start of hockey season, the only sport where a preseason game is worth the price of admission. The Wild kick off the preseason in two weeks with very few changes from last years playoff loss to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. The key losses were long time goaltender Manny Fernandez who despite a strong start to the 2006-7 season was injured and benched for the majority of the 2nd half. And Todd White who also had a similar season as Fernandez doing next to nothing the 2nd half as he battled through injuries.

The most talented additions will be rookies like Peter Kalus, Beniot Puliot or Jack Sheppard, but none of them should be relied on to make an impact even if they might show up on the stat sheet often. The biggest addition really is probably defensive defenseman Sean Hill who will serve a 19 game suspension before joining the lineup.

The real key for the Wild will be the continued development of young talent in Mikko Koivu Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Brent Burns all of which really demonstrated they will be impact players in this league for a long time last year. Burns really showed he has what it takes the last 20 games of the regular season and into the playoffs, if he can give a full season of that kind of play that alone will lead to an extra win or two, and chances are he will give the Wild that and then some as he continues to develop.

While I loved Manny Fernandez and honestly would prefer him to Backstrom the goalie position has to be considered as strong as ever with Josh Harding waiting in the wings having a handful of very impressive performances behind him. Overall the talent level probably is about the same as a year ago, but this is still a team that relies on young talent so if they continue to develop at a normal level this team should be better then last years.

This is as close to a no doubt about it playoff team as the Wild have ever had, even a major injury or two shouldn't keep them out. So the big fun of the regular season will be seeing if they can win a division title and gain a top seed for the playoffs.

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