It will be interesting to see this game tonight. Remember last season's opener, against Columbus, the new top line (Mikko, Heatley and Seto) were great and the Wild won. Second straight year with a new top line, and this time it's even better.
The Wild should absolutely be better offensively this season. If not, it will either be because of injuries or a failure.
Defensively....we'll see. Better at the top of the defense corps for sure. But thinner than they were last season, and considerably less-experienced. Normally the unflappable Backstrom is on hand to make up for any early season missteps, so we will need him to do so this season as well.
The playoffs are the expectation for the Wild this season. Anything short of making the dance will be a failure.
The Avs seem to be on the rise. Unfortunately for them, when you say a team is "on the rise" you're really saying "They have some nice young players, but in a seven vame series against their AHL team it's a tough call." Young captain Landeskog will have to be a major part of their attack. Varlamov will have to be a stud. Erik Johnson's career could use a Norris-type season to regain its mojo. I'm not sold on their defense. Their surprise playoff appearance from a couple seasons back is a distant memory. Milan Hejduk is the venerable veteran, but can he really lead a team offensively anymore?
On paper, the Wild should win this game.
Final Score: 5-3 Wild victory.
Wild goal scorer: Parise.