ST. PAUL, Minn. When the Minnesota Wild went on their summer shopping spree to land big-name free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, fans of the team envisioned long playoff runs, Stanley Cups and parades down the streets of St. Paul.
All of the hype surrounding Parise and Suter overshadowed one important fact. The first step for Minnesota is getting back into the playoffs, after going four years since its last postseason appearance.
While the Wild have been basking in the spotlight created by the additions of Parise and Suter, perennial playoff teams like the Chicago Blackhawks were setting themselves up for another Cup run. Only 12 days into this sprint of a season, Chicago had raced out to a 6-0-0 record and established themselves among a trio of dominating teams in the Western Conference along with the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues.
Minnesota, still adjusting somewhat to its new mix, entered Wednesday night leading the Northwest Division with a 3-2-1 record. The Wild a...