ST. PAUL, Minn. Through the first 30 games of the 2011-12 NHL season, the Minnesota Wild had sprinted to a league-best 20-7-3 record. But during the remainder of last year's 82-game schedule, the Wild faded after their hot start and missed out on the playoffs entirely.
If that fast start were to be duplicated during the upcoming lockout-shortened season, Minnesota would likely be a shoe-in to make the playoffs. The lengthy lockout has forced the NHL to play a condensed season, likely play 48 games each.
With less time to make up ground, getting off to a fast start will be more important than ever.
"It's basically half of a season and go, so it'll be a sprint to the playoffs," said new Wild forward Zach Parise. "You want to make sure the games at the beginning of the season are just as, if not more important than, the ones at the end. You want to put yourself in a good spot."
Teams are expected to begin the regular season Jan. 19, which also happens to be Hockey Day in Minnesota. By...