Minnesota Wild: a pleasant early season surprise

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 08: Zach Parise (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 08: Zach Parise (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Wild Mikko Koivu
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Wild has maintained a workman’s like approach to the season just as they did during the offseason.

Meanwhile, Central Division rivals like the St. Louis Blues were making the same splashy moves Wild fans are always left yearning for. The Blues brought in a plethora of top-six forwards in Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Patrick Maroon, and Tyler Bozak. Even the Dallas Stars hired a new coach and brought former first-round pick Valeri Nichuskin back from a brief stint in Russia.

And yet here we are.

After Thursday night’s shellacking of the Vancouver Canucks, the Wild have now earned 26 points through 19 games. It hasn’t always been pretty, but the results sure have been. The early season slate includes wins over the Lightning, Avalanche, and San Jose Sharks, so it’s not like the Wild have played a bunch of slouches thus far.

Not only are the Wild winning, but they’re also doing it in a variety of ways with contributions up and down the lineup. First and foremost, though, is the defense. Minnesota ranks in the top five in the NHL in goals-against average, checking in at 2.53 goals against per game. The two biggest contributors to that are arguably the league’s third-best penalty kill (85.3%) and a tremendous bounce-back year from Devan Dubnyk.