After a summer in which the Wild held onto their roster from the previous season and signed one notable free agent (Thomas Vanek), the team that went toe to toe with the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round of the playoffs last season returns to the ice at Xcel Energy Center tonight.
Perhaps not since the 03-04 Wild has a season opened with such high expectations. It is a deep team with a good mix of veterans and young stars. Its a team that now has a taste of a playoff series win, and looks to build on that.
With all that has gone on in Minnesota sports lately, the Wild stand to be the team that can make you feel good about Minnesota sports (hopefully). While other pro sports teams have floundered on having on-field or off-field problems, the Wild have continued to build up a roster of both high talent and high character.
Tonight, the Wild open their season against perhaps their biggest rival, the Colorado Avalanche (Matt Duchene was quoted on Tuesday as saying, "We hate them. They hate us."). The two teams went punch for punch in round one of the playoffs last year before the Wild edged the Avs in overtime of Game Seven.
With as valuable as home ice was to the Wild that season, the team has adopted that as a new marketing slogan (Home of the Home Ice Advantage). Now its time to go out and earn that home ice for the postseason, because we know how valuable it really was.
Lets play hockey, boys.
Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell