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Examining the Minnesota Wild

by Bill Meltzer

Complete Wild Analysis:
Intro | Goalies | Defense | Forwards
Feature | Numbers | Sked | Roster

Wild want home ice in playoffs

The Minnesota Wild met a tough fate in 2006-07. There are many seasons where finishing with 104 points (a 48-26-8 record) is good enough to win your division or, at minimum, earn the fourth playoff seed in your conference -- and the first round home ice advantage that comes with not.

But 104 points wasn’t good enough last season. Not in the talent-rich Western Conference. The Wild finished one point behind the Northwest Division champion Vancouver Canucks and ended up with the seventh seed in the conference -- not to mention a first-round clash with the Stanley Cup championship bound Anaheim Ducks.

After dropping a pair of one-goal decisions in Anaheim the Wild returned home for the third match of the series trailing two games to none. The clubs split the two games in Minnesota, including yet another one-goal win for the Ducks. Anaheim then closed out the series at home with a 4-1 win in the fifth game.

What would a home-ice advantage have meant to Minnesota in the playoffs last year? We’ll never know, but the club posted 29 of its 48 wins at the home – the second-best home record in the NHL.

The hallmark of any Jacques Lemaire club is stifling team defense. The current squad is no exception. Last season, the Wild allowed the fewest goals against (191) of any team in the NHL, holding down the fort at even strength while boasting the second-ranked penalty kill in the NHL.

Offensively, the team did much of its damage (235 goals scored) either in special teams situations (6th-ranked power play) or in overtime or shootout finishes. The team won 10 times in the shootout. The common denominator is that the Wild gave themselves a chance to win on most nights.
2006-07 Record:
48-26-8, 2nd Northwest

Who's In:
F Eric Belanger, F Petr Kalus, D Sean Hill, G Nolan Schaefer, D Serge Payer

Who's Out:
D Todd White, F Wyatt Smith,  G Manny Fernandez

2006-07 Leading Scorers:
Brian Rolston (31-33-64), Pavol Demitra (25-39-64), Marian Gaborik (30-27-57), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (20-37-57), Mikko Koivu (20-34-54)

2006-07 Goaltending Leaders:
Niklas Backstrom (23-8-6, 1.97 GAA, 41 appearances, .929 save percentage, 5 shutouts), Manny Fernandez (22-16-1, 2.55 GAA, 44 appearances, .911 save percentage, 2 shutouts)
                  's 2007-08 Wild Season Preview Package:
Intro | Goalies | Defense | Forwards | Feature | Numbers | Sked | Roster
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