This has been a fun night for me because, in addition to the Gophers signing Tubby Smith as their new head basketball coach, the Wild trounced the St. Louis Blues 5-1 at the Xcel Energy Center tonight. Pavol Demitra score the Wild’s first goal on a breakaway, with Marian Gaborik giving him a perfect feed to send him in alone. Brian Rolston scored the Wild’s second goal, his thirtieth of the season, which turned out to be the gamewinner. Gaborik got the next 2 goals, his 27th & 28th goals of the season, both power play goals before Mikko Koivu scored his eighteenth goal of the season to finish the scoring.

This has been a magical season thus far for Wild fans. After suffering through some disappointing seasons, GM Doug Risebrough finally put some talent around Gaborik this offseason. He started by trading for Gaborik’s Czech friend Pavol Demitra on draft day. That paved the way for their resigning Gaborik, a true superstar, to a three year extension.

The chemistry between ‘Gabby’ & ‘Pav’ has been positively electric. Gaborik is a jet blur when he wants to be. He also has as nasty of a quick-release wrist shot as I’ve ever seen. Tonight, they worked together at as high a rate as Peter Forsberg and Joe Sakic did back in their heyday.

It’d be a mistake, though, to think of Gaborik & Demitra as the team’s only stars. Nothing could be further from the truth. Another key move this past offseason was keeping Brian Rolston. While Gaborik has been Minnesota’s most electric player this season, Rolston’s been Minnesota’s most consistent player this season.

There’s been some magic involved, too, in this season’s run. Another key offseason move was signing Niklas Backstrom from Europe. The thought was that they’d use him as an emergency goalie this season, a backup to backup Josh Harding, if you will. When Harding got injured in training camp, Backstrom became Manny Fernandez’ backup. When Fernandez got injured, Backstrom became the starter, with Harding returning to be Backstrom’s backup. Things couldn’t have worked out better.

Finally, it’d be a huge mistake to not mention the job Jacques Lemaire has done in molding this team into the legitimate Stanley Cup threat that they are. Lemaire has always been one of the best coaches in the NHL. Now that he’s got big league talent on all his lines, he’s opening up the offense to play to the team’s strength, which are its forwards.

How far the Wild will go this offseason is anybody’s guess. What’s certain is that nobody’s anxious to meet them in the first couple of round of the playoffs.

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