ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Opening night for the Minnesota Wild is finally here. Colorado begins a three-game series in a four-day stretch – part of the 48 game NHL season.
They will lean on a hot goaltender to carry it. Niklas Backstrom can be that for the Wild. If he is, this will be the season they envision.
Backstrom prepared for this by playing pick-up hockey before the lockout ended. But he’s well aware that pick-up hockey was not real preparation for what the NHL offers.
“We had a great group of guys, so we had a good skate. And it’s good to be on the ice – your ice condition is pretty good. But on the other hand too, the pace is not there, it’s not that intense,” Backstrom said.
He will be the back stop, and along with Josh Harding, Backstrom may end up the key to what all understand is a goalie’s game. Wild Defenseman Justin Falk says it’s all about the goalies on the road to the championship.
“We got…two healthy, strong goalies. If we can have them play well and ride them, you know, the story of every playoff run to the Stanley Cup seems to be a hot goalie that the team rides on,” Falk said.
No one knows for certain if a 48-game season favors an offensive-minded team or a team that relies heavily on its goaltending. But there is some precedence from the past that Backstrom lived through.
“During the Olympic year it was pretty much close to the same pace, so it’s going to be a lot of games. But it’s something you have to adjust to,” Backstrom said.
All part of a season that holds so much promise for a team that has made so many upgrades.
“They have a good bunch of guys here, great players. Some really good signings in the summer, a lot of young, good players coming. So everyone is excited,” he said.