With 48 games in 102 days, the Minnesota Wild and the NHL are in for a fast and furious start of the New Year.  48 in 102…think about it, that’s a game almost every other day.   A good chance the schedule will be filled with some back to backs or the 2 in 3’s (two games in three days) fast pace.

As for the pace and importance of the first half of the shortened season, the Wild do have what it takes to start strong.  Case in point, last year after 24 games, the Wild was atop the Western Conference.  We all know how that ended for the Wild. (In case you forgot, they ended the season in 12th place, a whopping 14 points out of the playoffs!)  But if halfway through the season, the Wild are in first…it would take a collapse of epic proportions to not make the playoffs.

The playoffs are expected to start on May 1st, meaning the Wild could have another 28 games in May and June.  It’s very likely that you could attend a Twins and Wild game on the same day.  If that happens you will be watching three of Minnesota and Wisconsin’s favorite sons!  You know about Joe Mauer (Saint Paul), and the other two names made a big splash last summer.

I’m off course referring to Zach Parise (Minneapolis) and Ryan Suter (Madison, WI).  When these two heralded heroes of the ice inked the dotted line, the hockey community was abuzz.  That buzz became a snore until Sunday morning when the news hit Facebook and Twitter just hours after the Vikings season ended.

So as we wake from our NHL slumber, the questions will soon be answered…Will the Wild be a playoff team, and will the Wild fans return if they start slow.

One thing’s for sure, the excitement in the air will get stirred early and often.