By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The NHL season is back, and the Wild will try to start it right in Detroit — where the team is opening a new arena — but that’s just the first step.

Last year, the Wild were strong until the playoffs, where the St. Louis Blues provided an abrupt end. It begs the question: Is this year’s team better than last year’s team?

“Well, I’ve got a good feeling, but I hate to compare the teams in different years, and I won’t do that now,” Wild captain Mikko Koivu said.

What is the same is the head coach — Bruce Boudreau started his tenure in Minnesota last season, and that means fewer surprises.

“It was still new, everything we did last year,” Boudreau said. “We’ve got an awful lot of the same players back, so it should be old hat to them.”

Zach Parise will miss at least the first two games with a bad back. What’s comforting is that this is a veteran filled roster with years of play together.

“We have a deep group, and even if someone is out, there are guys who can step up,” Wild forward Mikael Granlund said.

And there’s another bonus — they will open a new arena Thursday night in Detroit, adding to the ambiance and anticipation.

“It’s always great to go in another arena and experience the home opener, that’s for sure,” Wild forward Nino Niederreiter said. “Playing in Detroit with a new arena is definitely going to be exciting.”

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