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Minnesota Wild season preview

10/3/2005

THE BOTTOM LINE

By Jim Kelley, Special to ESPN.com


They've surprised you before, but this is definitely a youth-movement team.

Offense: This team couldn't score in the past, not at even strength, not on the power play. Marian Gaborik is their horse, but he's battling groin problems and that will hurt his effectiveness again.

Defense: Coach Jacques Lemaire makes the whole team play it to the point of distraction. The Wild often don't score because they don't try. Maybe that's why they tied some 20 games a season.

Goaltending: Dwayne Roloson and Manny Fernandez are experienced pros and complement each other as co-starters, an odd pairing that works. It's the strength of the team, along with the defensive commitment.

WHERE THEY'LL FINISH
14th
YES … Because Jacques Lemaire knows how to keep things close.
BUT … It's tough to really fail in a rebuilding year, the question is, will Lemaire be able to keep them together during the learning process?

PLAYER TO WATCH

Mikko Koivu, brother of Montreal's Saku, was an All-Star in Houston last season and has been impressive in camp.

HEY, COACH!

Jacques Lemaire may be the best teaching coach in the game, but he's got a lot of young players who have a lot to learn, and that will test him and his patience.


FACEOFFS
BEST OFFSEASON MOVE --> KIDS ARE ALRIGHT


That the Wild has the courage to play the kids.

WORST OFFSEASON MOVE --> NOT?


That the Wild told their fans they're playing the kids.

Alexandre Daigle, RW
Daigle led the team with 20 goals and 31 assists in 78 games.

Dwayne Roloson, G
In 48 games, Roloson posted a 19-18-11 record with a 1.88 goals-against average.

Quoteables

I wasn't sure what to expect but the arena was great and the fans were outstanding. That's something as players that we really appreciate.

Brian Rolston on fans' turnout during the preseason.