Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 1/8/13
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 Jan. 19 of last season, the Wild had already slipped to 22-18-7 by losing 15 of 17 games after sitting in first place in the NHL. "Last year, we got a good start and it didn't go all the way," said Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom. "Every year you have to get a good start, especially now. It's 15 good teams in the West, 15 in the East. (This year), you can't have a bad start. You can't have a bad week. You have to find a way to bounce back and play good every minute." The NBA went through a similar condensed schedule last year after a lockout cut the basketball season short. Teams played a 66-game schedule instead of the regular 82. That meant a more hectic travel schedule, with some teams having to play games on three straight nights. The NHL schedules still haven't been released, but there will likely be some similarities. One difference, though, is the physicality of hockey compared to basketball. Because of the nature of the sport, preparation for and within the shortened season will become a balancing act. "You might have to ease up on practice time. You might have to get more days off," said Mike Yeo, the Wild's second-year coach. "I think the other thing for us is with the travel that we have and where we are geographically, I think we might have to look at some adjustments to our travel as far as staying over in cities a little bit more. I would think that we're facing a few more days on the road than we have in the past." Defenseman Ryan Suter was one of the Wild's big offseason additions, as he and Parise signed matching 13-year, 98 million contracts in early July. Neither was a part of Minnesota's quick start or its eventual collapse last season. Still, Suter knows the importance of Minnesota starting on the right foot during a 48-game season. "I think there will be a sense of urgency, definitely. With a shortened schedule, guys know that they have to be going from Game 1," Suter said. "In the past, you could get away with having a little bit of a slump, but now with the shortened schedule you're not going to be able to." In a way, the short season will make almost every game feel like a playoff game. For those teams that fall behind early, catching up will become much harder but not impossible. "In every season, there's always a big emphasis on starting strong, this year more so than ever. But having said that, one real key to this year is also being able to stay in the moment," Yeo said. "If you get off to a great start, that's good. You've got to feel good about it, but you have to be ready to move on and you have to be ready to attack the next group of games because you can also lose ground very quickly. "But having said that, if you get off to a tough start, it doesn't mean your season's over. You're still in the race. You just have a little catching up to do." Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

49ers’ Anthony Davis officially applies for reinstatement

Jordan speaks out against shootings, donates $2 million

Report: Cromartie may be forced to retire due to hip issue

Greg Jennings announces retirement from NFL

Vikings OT Phil Loadholt retires after seven seasons in NFL

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Yankees, Cubs in 'final stages' of Chapman trade

Report: Fitzpatrick got ‘multiple contract offers’ from Jets

A-Rod: Ortiz deserves Fenway statue, street named after him

Report: Bosh's camp 'angry and suspicious of Heat's intentions'

JJ Watt pens dramatic letter to fans about back injury

Le’Veon Bell vows to win appeal: ‘I’m not going to miss games’

Cubs to acquire Aroldis Chapman from Yankees

Aldon Smith denies appearing in video with marijuana blunt

Twitter signs deal with to stream live MLB and NHL games

Julian Edelman is dating Adriana Lima?

NFL reportedly determines Peyton Manning didn't use PEDs

KD, Draymond Green booed in L.A. during Team USA exhibition

Top storyline for each NFL team heading into training camp

Eight MLB veterans that need to be traded before deadline

Andre the Giant drank six bottles of wine before match?

Cristiano Ronaldo spars with Conor McGregor in gym

Adam Silver is the new standard-bearer for league commisioners

Iowa football player held at gunpoint by police while playing Pokemon Go

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

WATCH: NBA jersey sponsors that need to happen

Expansion draft playing heavy hand in the current NHL offseason

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker