Both the Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks opened the 2009-10 season with a loss over the weekend. But while first-year Wild coach Todd Richards was pleased with some of the things he saw from his team, Randy Carlyle wasn't thrilled with the Ducks' effort.
Richards hopes his squad can correct some of its problems in Tuesday night's home opener against a Ducks team trying to bounce back from a lackluster performance.
Richards was named as Jacques Lemaire's successor in June and promised to install an up-tempo style of play, emphasizing puck possession and a strong forecheck. Under Lemaire, the Wild were known for playing a conservative style of hockey and finished last season averaging a league-worst 27.5 shots per game.
In Richards' debut Saturday at Columbus, Minnesota was able to produce several scoring opportunities, firing 33 shots on goal, but it also committed some costly turnovers and ended up suffering a 2-1 loss.
"We gave up too many chances, but on the positive side we were able to create a lot of chances," Richards said. "We just need to cut back on our little mistakes that we're making.
"I thought we competed hard. Again, we gave up some chances, but we'll get better as the season goes on. I like the way the guys competed and if we put forth that effort we should end up on the positive side more times than not."
Carlyle didn't get the same effort from his team in Saturday's 4-1 home loss to San Jose.
The Ducks upset the top-seeded Sharks in the first round of last season's playoffs but were never in control Saturday.
Anaheim trailed 3-0 after one period and was outshot 17-2 in the second. Ryan Whitney ended Evgeni Nabokov's shutout bid with a goal 10:36 into the third.
"They played the game at a higher pace then we were playing it at," Carlyle said.
It won't get any easier for the Ducks, embarking on a four-game road trip. Anaheim has lost seven of its last nine in Minnesota, and the Wild have won seven straight home openers since tying the franchise's first one in 2000.
Minnesota and Anaheim split their four meetings last season, with both teams accounting for very little offense.
Backstrom went 2-1-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average and a shutout in three starts, while Anaheim's Jonas Hiller was 1-2-0 with a 1.68 GAA and a shutout in his three games.
Carlyle could turn to Jean-Sebastien Giguere in this game after Hiller stopped 33 shots in the opener. Giguere and Hiller are expected to split time this season.
Giguere made 26 saves in his only start against the Wild last season, a 4-2 win on Dec. 14.