First Glimpse: New Look Wild Fast, But Need Tune-Up

Nick MaxsonCorrespondent IOctober 12, 2009

SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Douglas Murray #3 of the San Jose Sharks and Cal Clutterbuck #22 of the Minnesota Wild go for the puck at HP Pavilion on October 10, 2009 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

In the first week of a young NHL season, the fans in the "State of Hockey" should like what they see so far.

The first impressions Wild fans may have about the team is the speed of play. Minnesota is skating, and they are skating hard, something they have not seen from this franchise.

Minnesota is breaking out of the defensive zone quickly and with much more ease than in past years. They also are not wasting any time getting into the offensive zone.

That has most fans pleased and feeling up-beat about the Wild's offensive potential, but with a new system comes mistakes.

Minnesota has the Defense pinching in deep in the zone constantly which is really helping the Wild keep an agressive for-check, however the Wild wings can forget to cover for the defense.

Minnesota's power-play has also a new look, and it seems that the coaching staff wants the puck in the hands of Brent Burns on the point. There is some great passing and puck movement, but the Wild are struggling to get pucks through to the net.

Overall you might say the Wild are on their way to learning the new system and as I discussed earlier with both head coach Todd Richards and the players, is that it is going to take some time to learn the system.

As for Minnesota's new superstar Martin Havlat, it is obvious he is fitting in the system quite well. He assisted on three out of the four goals in a come-from-behind win against Aneheim last week.

He also has seemed to find some great chemistry from fellow Czech Petr Sykora. Look for Minnesota to keep Havlat and Sykora together for at least a while through the next few weeks.

"Big" John Scott has also found a nice new role moving from defense up to wing. After fighting George Parros of Anaheim Minnesota found some life and fought back from a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3 in overtime.

With all of these changes in mind, what has worked? Well i think all Wild fans agree the up-tempo style is working and it is creating more offensive pressure. There is some work to be done, but it will work out nicely when perfected.

John Scott's move up to the wing  is also working. His size is tough to move and his physical presence is nice to have, as seen in the recent game against Anaheim.

On the other hand with all the positives, what needs to be worked on?

The powerplay definetly needs some work. The idea taking the shot from the point is a nice idea, this is where John Scott could be placed in front as a screen set-up.

The defense also needs to look for the open shooting lanes as most of the shots coming from the blue-line are not making it to the net.

Another thing that needs to be worked on is in the defensive zone. The Wild have yet to be as physical as they should be on defense, and they are allowing the opponent to much room in the zone to set-up and work.

The Wild really needs to put some more pressure on the opposing team with more than stick checks. They need to play the body and skate hard and make the offense uncomfortable in the zone.

With the good and the bad, who has stuck out? Martin Havlat has definetly shown his skills in his speed and vision on the ice in this new system. He has tallied five points in four games with the Wild.

Andrew Brunette is off to a fast start as well, leading the team with three goals in four games.

Looking at the week ahead, Minnesota continues its long road trip Wednesday against Anaheim, then travel to Edmonton and Vancouver to round off the week.

With the come-from-behind victory last week, Minnesota should have the advantage in Wednesday's tilt.

They will face tough division rival challenges from both the Canucks and Oilers and by the end of the week Minnesota could end up third in the Northwest division at 3-4.