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New-look Wild are silencing doubters early

Jan 20, 2013, 11:02 PM EDT

ST PAUL, MN - JANUARY 20: (L-R) Mikael Granlund #64, Zach Parise #11 and Dany Heatley #15 of the Minnesota Wild celebrate a goal by Parise during the first period of the game against the Dallas Stars on January 20, 2013 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Minnesota Wild entered the season amid high expectations thanks to their off-season acquisitions of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. They also attracted plenty of skeptics who wondered if they had the depth or chemistry to excel in their first season with their newest superstars.

Nothing has been decided yet, but Minnesota fans have plenty to be happy about after starting the season with a 2-0-0 record.

Suter and Parise have certainly done their part early on. Parise provided the lone goal in Minnesota’s 1-0 victory over the Dallas Stars on Sunday and had a pair of assists in the season opener. Suter is still searching for his first point, but he’s already logged a staggering 50:12 minutes with the Wild.

Still, it would be a gross exaggeration to suggest that they are the sole reason the Wild are off to a hot start. Dany Heatley and Mikko Koivu have found success early with Parise, rookie Mikael Granlund has already netted his first goal, and the Wild’s goaltenders have done their part.

The question now is if they can build off of their early success and how they will handle themselves when they face more highly regarded teams like the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 27. There’s no question that they still have a lot of work ahead of them, but they couldn’t have asked for any more this weekend.

  1. sknut - Jan 20, 2013 at 11:08 PM

    outstanding work by the team tonight and a special shutout for Harding after being diagnosed with MS. Outstanding for him what a class act wish nothing but the best for him.

  2. lordfletcher - Jan 20, 2013 at 11:10 PM

    this team is a legitimate threat to win the NW division

    Parise is playing like a bat out of hell and this team is highly motivated… I don’t see this streak stopping at two. Tonight’s game could have easily been 3-0 or 3-1 but too many pucks didn’t hit the net.

    Granlund’s stick work is amazing, he is an incredible asset to this team and PMB is playing better than ever. The second line tonight during 5-5 play was the difference even though they didn’t score. Harding will be the starter if he keeps up this play but I am sure the coaching staff will ease him into a heavy work load with his early MS career

    Go Wild!

    • ron05342 - Jan 20, 2013 at 11:21 PM

      Wait a minute.

      Didn’t they start out hot last season also?

      • lordfletcher - Jan 20, 2013 at 11:22 PM

        if last season was only 48 games, they would have made the playoffs :D

      • blurwild - Jan 21, 2013 at 10:54 AM

        Fletcher is right, but it would have been close. They needed to win Game 48 vs Dal to pass up the stars and overtake the 8th spot to get in…

        The collapse was quick and deadly last year. 30 games in, they were 1st in NHL overall. 47 games in, they were 9th in the West.

      • lordfletcher - Jan 21, 2013 at 11:21 AM

        Yup Yup…..

        The reasons for the collapse last year won’t happen again this season. The Wild last year were hit VERY hard with injuries, worse than any other team and Minnesota had no one to call up that could replace a top 6 role. I’m not saying that the Wild can’t go on a losing streak but they can easily prevent the downward spiral this season with the prospects they have in Houston and the new players signed this past summer. Zucker is ready to make the jump and we are still waiting on Brodin (potential top 2 pairing) and Scandella to get healthy, should be ready in two weeks or so. Great year and coming years to be a Minnesota hockey fan

      • jpelle82 - Jan 21, 2013 at 12:22 PM

        the guys they have now arent gonna fluke out after 30 games hopefully. you can say you know what you’re getting with suter and parise – effort every night. if they stay healthy – look out west.

  3. woodstakes - Jan 21, 2013 at 12:44 AM

    I know it’s only been 2 games, but this team looks head and shoulders better than last year. To actually see a good 2nd line and 3rd/4th liners actually playing on the lines they should be playing on is so nice to see after watching 3rd and 4th liners have to play on the 1st and 2nd lines for most of last year. Even if we got bit by the injury bug like we did last year this team will be much better because of whats down in Houston waiting. Last year we had mediocre to decent AHL’ers playing up the whole second half of the year.

    Already, the power play looks dangerous! With the extra weight Heater put on he looks really tough in front of the goal and with Parise and Mikko to get the puck to him… I wouldn’t want to give the Wild 5 pp opportunities a game this year. Last year we were lucky if we could score on the pp, this year we could legitimately be in the top 8-10 on the pp.

    I am also very impressed with Seto this year. He showed up to camp in great shape and is flying around the ice like crazy. At least 3 times in the last 2 games I saw him flying around and checking people and I just expected to see good ole #22’s number, instead it was him. He hasn’t produced yet but he keeps the hustle up good things could come for him. Grandlund is just about what I expected, he has a real chance to be something good if not great in the NHL. Can tell he needs to adjust to the speed and physicality at the NHL level, but he has got great hockey sense and a beautiful set of hands.

    I’m not ready to say “We’re Cup contenders…” just yet, but I do believe we are a playoff team and would not be all that surprised if we end up with a race for the NW Division this year. Canucks are hurt and did not improve over the offseason, virtually everyone else in the division improved or matured. Canucks easy runs to the President Cup days are O-V-E-R!!

  4. pariseinminnesotabichez - Jan 21, 2013 at 12:58 AM

    Keep the wins coming boys!

  5. jessethegreat - Jan 21, 2013 at 1:11 AM

    Loving every minute of it!

  6. skolvikings93 - Jan 21, 2013 at 1:55 AM

    Go Wild! Isn’t it great to be excited about hockey again in Minnesota?

  7. gbar22 - Jan 21, 2013 at 4:05 AM

    Wow talk about reading way too much into wins. To be singing their praises after only two games! Damn. I guess everyone with the rangers and flyers, two teams predicted on here by everyone to do great things this year, should just give up and rebuild for next season after all they are both 0-2 lundqvist has looked weak for the rangers the flyers can’t kill a penalty and I can reasonably based off the first two games conclude both these trends continuing for the rest of the 46 games. pack it in.

    • ThatGuy - Jan 21, 2013 at 9:14 AM

      Its not just the Wins, you can visually tell the team is much better than that gong show that played the second half of last year. And that is exciting for Wild fans. We could of lost tonight, and people would say the same thing.

  8. dtrb10 - Jan 21, 2013 at 8:43 AM

    PMB is huge for us. If he stays healthy all season, watch out

  9. SkinnyD15 - Jan 21, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    Let’s not get too excited just yet. They were fantastic early last year in a full season, then petered out 2nd half. Let’s keep in mind that there are a lot of games condensed into a short period of time(b2b2b’s), not a lot of practice time, etc. Don’t get me wrong, as a Wild homer I’m excited too, but it’s only game 2, in a home opening weekend. I wanna see how their play is on someone else’s sheet. Pessimist? He’ll yeah, I’m a MN sports fan!!! IALTO!!!

  10. joeyashwi - Jan 21, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    The reason they “petered out” last year was injuries. If this team can stay healthy they are dangerous. Last year we had more AHL players on the roster than NHL players.
    I agree that it’s nice to see our lines matched up as they should be instead of natural second or third liners playing on our first line. PMB is already making an impact and Clutterbuck, Seto, and Heatley already look better than they did at any time last year.
    This team was the best in the league before they caught the injury bug last year. With the same core plus Parise and Suter…who knows? GO WILD!

  11. hockeywithdrawal - Jan 21, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    They look great – congrats, Wild fans!

  12. gbar22 - Jan 21, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    I’m going to take a picture of all these comments and then come back and compare them during the teams first Losing streak. Now I’m not saying the wild are a bad team I suspect they will make the playoffs but having said that fans everywhere are over reacting to the first two games let’s talk after 24 games and see where teams stack but even then you know there will be teams who crash and teams who rise for the second half.

    • woodstakes - Jan 21, 2013 at 2:38 PM

      Where do you see over reactions exactly??? I haven’t seen anyone make guarantees that the Wild will win the Cup or even the Division. All people are excited about that if this team stays healthy and make the playoffs they could get hot like L.A. last year and could have a legit chance, if the team last year, even if they were healthy, made the playoffs nobody here would have even thought for a second that we would even see the second round of the playoffs. This team?? If this team makes the playoffs anything can happen.

      • mp1131211 - Jan 21, 2013 at 4:51 PM

        Don’t worry, he’s just irked because his team lost two off the bat. Go Wild!!!

  13. ddkendall - Jan 21, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    The Wild is a class organization and I am happy for them at this point. My son still lives and works in Mpls and is a hugh St. Cloud State and Minnesota Wild fan. Last Thursday D. Heatly and R. Setaguchi stopped by the place where my son works and had him paged. When he come up front they offered an apology for him missing 1/2 of the NHL season. My son met Dany Heatly when he first was traded to the Wild and helped him figure out the cabling for his entertainment center. Heatly remembered my son being a big fan and took the time to look him up on his way to practice. Hockey players for the most part are much more sensitive to their fan base than other pro athletes. Once again a class act by a couple of class individuals.

  14. purpleguy - Jan 21, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    Maybe they are not Cup contenders yet, but the difference in play from last year after watching two games is fairly significant. They now have 3 solid lines rather than 1, and the way Parise works on the ice is fun to watch. If the defense holds up, this team will make the playoffs.

  15. joeyashwi - Jan 21, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    You can take a picture of this:
    Win or lose, this Wild team is definitely on the right track. Nobody is claiming they are the top team in the league, only that this team is much better than teams past. More often than not the best team doesn’t hoist the cup. We are just saying this team has a chance to surprise a lot of people. I’m not a Kings fan but I enjoyed watching their unexpected rise to the title. Hockey is a fun and exciting sport to watch and for once, the Wild are as fun and exciting to watch as any team in the league.

  16. metroplexfrog - Jan 21, 2013 at 7:39 PM

    Stars had every opportunity to win the game.

    • lordfletcher - Jan 21, 2013 at 8:27 PM

      please.

      they were dominated for over 65% of the game and had zero great scoring opportunities. The Wild had most scoring chances and should have netted at least one more goal.

      Don’t be butthurt

  17. beerndrums - Jan 22, 2013 at 4:31 AM

    Relax….it’s only been 2 games

  18. howiehandles - Jan 22, 2013 at 9:35 AM

    Glad Minnesota is back, and good, again in the NHL. Such a joke this team was allowed to be moved. Hopefully the ‘hawks and Wild can develop a rivalry comparable to the old days of the Stars/Hawks.

  19. JB (the original) - Jan 22, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    It IS early, but you can’t deny that they look much better “skills” wise than they did all of last year (even before the injury bug took hold).

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