ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — It’s back. The NHL season is here. The Minnesota Wild boarded a plane Wednesday afternoon for Denver, where they will open the regular season Thursday night against the Colorado Avalanche.

As Mike Max reports, it is a season they go into with a pretty good feel for who they are.

The Wild worked out at Ridder Arena on the University of Minnesota campus on Wednesday with Xcel Energy Center being occupied. It was a final tune-up for what is always special: Opening night.

“It’s great to make the opening night roster and some of the kids it’s cool too. You get some of the young guys that haven’t had one before, rookies, things like that. So it’s kind of neat to see them too,” center Ryan Carter said.

What’s been different about this camp? Less evaluation, because they know who they are. That’s what happens when most the roster comes back, and the coach can take teaching to a new level.

“It’s allowed us to make it harder to be honest with you. I think that’s the one thing that’s nice. System-wise with the familiarity we have, instead of starting with step one, step two, you can make things a little more complex for the players right off the bat,” coach Mike Yeo said.

So if they’ve figured out the goaltending situation by acquiring Devan Dubnyk and if they’ve figured out the power play in the second half of last season with improvement, does it mean they’ll pick up where they left off the second half of last season? Well, that’s the intent anyway.

That’s why you can sense a confidence, at least an identity, that they know who they are and they believe in each other.

“We dug ourselves such a hole last year. It was hard to get out of,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. “The second half of the year our power play was actually pretty good and in the playoffs we were really good. So it’s a new year. Our PK was not very good a few years ago and last year it was first in the league. Same personnel.”

So bring on the new season with optimism and excitement, because this is the NHL and these nights and seasons are special.

“Everyone’s been waiting for it. You wait all summer to get another crack at it and playing, starting another season,” Charlie Coyle said.

Mike Max