The Minnesota Wild open their regular season Thursday night in St. Louis against the Blues. Last season the Wild snuck into the playoffs as the bottom seed and took the Dallas Stars to six games before bowing out.
In the offseason the Wild hired a new bench boss in Bruce Boudreau. Boudreau brings a winning pedigree from his stops in Washington and Anaheim. Can he lead the Wild to a fifth consecutive playoff appearance? Time will tell.
Instead of taking a vanilla-like approach with what we can expect this season, how about we step it up a notch with three (probably) ridiculous predictions for the Wild this season.
1. The Wild will go undefeated in January
Mike Yeo lost his job in February because of the Wild's annual mid-year slump. Last year the Wild went 1-13 after Jan. 9 which led to Yeo's ouster as head coach. The same swoon happened in 2015 and the year before that.
Because of the slump, the Wild have had to play near-flawless hockey just to put themselves back in the playoff picture.
If the Wild can avoid the slump by playing perfect hockey by the new year, we won't have to endure another year of second-half of torture.
2. Minnesota will win the division
Throughout Boudreau's coaching career, his teams have always had success in the regular season. In nine seasons as a head coach, he's won eight division championships.
The Wild have made four consecutive playoff appearances but they've been just a wild card team and have begun the opening series on the road in all of those trips.
So when the Wild win their division they'll open the playoffs at the Xcel Energy Center, which has historically given the Wild an advantage.
All they have to do is finish ahead of Dallas, Chicago, St. Louis and Nashville. Super easy.
3. Zach Parise will score more than 45 goals
Zach Parise missed the playoffs last season because of a herniated disc in his back. Parise opted for rehab instead of surgery. At one point, the injury was so bad that Parise couldn't even get out of bed.
The Minnesota native was healthy enough to play in the World Cup of Hockey last month and insists he's healthy heading into the 2016-17 season.
So naturally, he's going to come in and score at least 46 goals – beating his career-high of 45 goals, which he set at the tender age of 24.
Over the last three seasons, Parise has missed 10, 7 and 15 games respectively. Parise is the heart and soul of the Wild and Minnesota is just not the same team without him in the lineup.
Parise is without a doubt the best player on the Wild. Whether he has a bad back, one leg or a broken arm he'll still lead this team in goals by the end of the regular season.