Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press
Speedy Wild must push the pace
Remember the old Minnesota Wild teams under veteran head coach Jacques Lemaire? Those teams were all about scoring one or two goals and locking a game down with defense. While there were times that strategy was moderately effective, it was a dull and boring brand of hockey to watch.
The current version of the Wild is nothing like that team. Led by youthful players like Erik Haula, the Wild is one of the fastest skating teams in the league. They need to push the pace consistently and let their speed help them become one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the league.
They are not there yet, but their speed will give them an opportunity to make a statement in the near future.
Improve the Penalty Kill
There are some teams in the NHL that manage to get near the top even if they don't have a dominating power play. However, there are few teams that can assert themselves if they can't take care of business on the penalty kill.
That has to be an issue for the Minnesota Wild going forward. The Wild ranked 27th in killing penalties last season, and that's a big problem. The Wild had the worst penalty-killing record of any of the 16 teams that made the playoffs this season.
Opponents have been able to take advantage of the Wild with shots from the blue line or make plays from behind the goal line. That has to change going forward and that situation needs to be addressed by Chuck Fletcher.
Assertive play from Koivu, Granlund
Mikko Koivu has been one of the Wild's top all-around players since his rookie season in 2005-06. However, the 31-year-old Finnish star has let his unselfish nature get the best of him at times. Koivu is coming off back-to-back 11-goal seasons. That's simply not enough scoring.
Koivu is more than talented enough to score 18-to-20 goals every year. He has exceeded the 20-goal mark three times in his career, and the Wild need him back at that level.
Mikael Granlund, 22, has the tools to be a star in the NHL for years to come. But like his countryman Koivu, he is primarily looking to pass when he is on the ice. He scored eight goals and 33 assists this year, and there's no reason he can't score at least 15 goals next season.