Will the Wild be better or worse this season, and why?
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09-09-2009, 03:32 PM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Louisville, KY
Well, that is an interesting question. I do think that the changes were needed and that Fletcher seems to (just my opinion on what he did at the draft and hearing him speak--can't base it off anything tangible yet) understand his position post-lockout than Risebrough ever could.
With that said, I think this year will show inconsistency. Many of the guys have only had Lemaire and co. preaching to them defense, position, etc. While I would never say that Lemaire wasn't what was wrong with the team, I will say it will be nice to see consistent lines, a full-time captaincy and defenseman jumping into the play...even if it does mean we give up a few more odd-man rushes.
The inconsistency will show as the team adapts to a different style of play. I think some of the forwards will be timid to actuall forecheck and some of the defensemen will need time to realize that they are allowed to join into the rush.
I do believe that if Sheppard gets 2nd line icetime most of the year, he will begin to show some good abilities. I feel he needs confidence and better foot-work. I think Burns is going to have a huge year and Johnsson will continue to show great positional play, smooth passing and some of that offense that he had back in Philly.
The biggest question to me, which is probably because I am pessimistic, is how Backstrom will do with a more open system. He has veins of ice, meaning he does not get bothered and is always in good position. The problem with a more wide open system is that you get a positional goaltender moving side to side more often. Backstrom is not the most athletic goalie out there so I do wonder if he will be as good as he was behind a Lemaire coached team, facing many low-quality shots.
Long story short:
I believe Wild fans will enjoy seeing more offense, consistent lines, forechecking. But, this year will show inconsistency due to growing pains as we are implementing a new system. We also do not have a lot of depth so if Koivu/Havlat/Burns go down with an injury, we will have problems.
Personally, I want to see what Bouchard/Sheppard/Burns all do this year. I want to see if Bouchard and Sheppard can live up to their potential. I also will enjoy watching Clutterbuck become one of the best 3rd liners out there! Last but not least, I can't wait to see what Koivu does!
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