Wild And Lightning Off To Quick Start

Archived from 2002-03 season.

NHL teams

Just two weeks into the new season the Minnesota Wild and the Tampa Bay Lightning are off to the best start in franchise history.

Lot of credit is due to the Wild's coach Jacques Lamaire, who has his team playing strong, obstruction-free defense with a bunch of speedy forwards ready to capitalize on the opponent's mistakes.

"You know you're always going to get a chance with him," said Wild captain Brad Bombardir, who played for Lemaire in New Jersey. "Every guy in here feels like he's a part of the team, and that's because Jacques makes you feel that way."

"Speed is what our game is," Winger Antti Laaksonen said. "We try to skate hard every game, and that gives chances for us. You can make a mistake, but if you skate hard and get back, that's how you correct those mistakes."

Team unity is also praised in Tampa Bay, where the Lightning is undefeated after five games with a 4-0-1 record.

"We have confidence in each other, and that's half the battle," captain Dave Andreychuk said. "Even when we fall behind, everybody remains calm and confident, because we have scored enough goals that we feel we can get back in any game."

"Everybody has chipped in, and that's a good sign, but we are five games into the season and we have to continue to take it one day at a time," Lightning coach John Tortorella . "You can't make a judgment about a hockey team after five games."

Unlike the Wild and Lightning, the San Jose Sharks and the Nashville Predators are off to very disappointing starts.

The underachieving Sharks may get a fresh kick out of the return of goalie Evgeni Nabokov, who signed a new contract ending a hold out.

The Predators are winless after six games and have to find a fix quickly if they want to reach the holy grail of playoffs as their fans expect them to do this season.

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