Patrick Reusse: Back in playoffs, Rolston seeks an improved finish

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 10, 2007 - 6:01 PM

Postseason disappointments led to a departure from Boston. Now, veteran Brian Rolston will try to regain his scoring touch for the Wild.

Brian Rolston
hide

Brian Rolston

Photo: Jeff Vinnick, Getty Images

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Brian Rolston has not been out of the first round of the NHL playoffs in a decade. His most recent postseason experiences were not good ones with the Boston Bruins.

Rolston signed with the Wild on July 8, 2004. It was the early stage of a Bruins purge following another playoff flop.

On the day he signed, Rolston said of his stay in Boston: "Two of the past three seasons, we had 100 points and didn't get out of the first round. It was disappointing to the organization, to me."

This was before the lockout, before shootout points were being handed out, and when 100 points still was the mark of a tremendous season.

Boston was the No. 1 seed in the East in 2002 and lost to Montreal in six games. Two years later, the Bruins were the No. 2 seed and lost to Montreal in seven games.

Rolston had one goal and no assists in that series. He joined Mike Knuble and Michael Nylander as veterans allowed to leave as free agents. The Bruins waited until after the lockout to complete the purge, sending Joe Thornton to San Jose on Nov. 30, 2005.

The Bruins have gone backward. Thornton has regained his superstar status in San Jose. And after three years, Rolston has returned to the playoffs in Minnesota.

Rolston's first year here was spent waiting out the lockout. Last season, he reached career highs in goals (34) and assists (45) but did so in a year when the Wild's front office was committed to avoiding the playoffs.

The reinforcements arrived last summer. There was a fast start for both the team and Rolston. He had nine goals in October. Those personal bests from the 2005-06 season seemed destined to fall.

Rolston missed three games in early February because of a virus. There was a 13-game stretch in and around the illness when he scored one goal.

He went from a team MVP candidate to a 34-year-old looking for some late-season momentum. The Wild insiders have been suggesting that Rolston, more than anyone, has to pick up his game from its recent standard for this opening series with Anaheim.

"I had a little bit of a setback with the flu," he said. "I feel like I found my game again toward the end of the season. I'm healthy. I feel great. Let's get started."

Rolston won a Stanley Cup in 1995 as a rookie with the New Jersey Devils. He played in six playoff games and was productive with two goals and an assist.

"I might not have been a big part of that team, but I know what it's like to win a Stanley Cup," Rolston said. "It's why we all play the game -- to get in the playoffs and make a run."

Jacques Lemaire was Rolston's coach in 1995, as he has been in Minnesota.

"Early in your career, there are times when Jacques is pointing out things, and you wonder, 'Does this guy really know what he's talking about?' " Rolston said. "But when you're a veteran, when you've been around the NHL, it all makes sense.

"It's a definite advantage to have Jacques on the bench. He knows what it takes to win. And if we do what he says, we can win, even though Anaheim is an excellent hockey club."

Defensemen Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer will be the main obstacles for the Wild's top two lines: Demitra-Walz-Gaborik and Bouchard-White-Rolston.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 14 3rd Qtr 0:55
Seattle 24
Miami 83 FINAL
Boston 75
LA Lakers 80 FINAL
New York 92
Arizona 3 FINAL
Montreal 2
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Nashville 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Miami-Florida 54 FINAL
Florida State 55
Oakland 96 FINAL
Youngstown St 80
Cincinnati 46 FINAL
East Carolina 50
Michigan 66 FINAL
Michigan State 76
Marist 75 FINAL
Canisius 67
Fordham 77 FINAL
Dayton 101
Manhattan 87 FINAL
Monmouth 76
Quinnipiac 100 FINAL
Niagara 105
Utah 67 FINAL
USC 39
Connecticut 68 FINAL
Houston 70
California 90 FINAL
Washington 88
North Dakota St 64 FINAL
Western Ill 62
Penn State 65 FINAL
(22) Rutgers 76
(14) Texas 59 FINAL
TCU 64
Coll of Charleston 49 FINAL
Towson 71
Cornell 53 FINAL
Yale 60
Xavier 68 FINAL
Providence 57
Drexel 61 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 44
Stony Brook 60 FINAL
New Hampshire 52
Maine 52 FINAL
Albany 44
Miami-Florida 66 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
(21) Georgia 72 FINAL
(10) Kentucky 80
Arizona 69 FINAL
Colorado 81
Wake Forest 63 FINAL
(4) Notre Dame 92
Loyola-Chicago 56 FINAL
Illinois State 72
(24) Oklahoma 69 FINAL
West Virginia 78
St Johns 73 FINAL
Seton Hall 78
Delaware 73 FINAL
Hofstra 62
Binghamton 49 FINAL
UMass Lowell 66
Vermont 49 FINAL
Hartford 60
William & Mary 72 FINAL
Northeastern 66
Boston College 60 FINAL
(16) North Carolina 72
Virginia 77 FINAL
Clemson 72
(2) Connecticut 83 FINAL
Temple 49
Arkansas 53 FINAL
Alabama 42
Virginia Tech 71 FINAL
Georgia Tech 79
Kansas 58 FINAL
(3) Baylor 66
Canisius 51 FINAL
Rider 52
Monmouth 52 FINAL
Fairfield 54
Quinnipiac 81 FINAL
Saint Peters 50
Butler 55 FINAL
Creighton 62
Wichita State 61 FINAL
Drake 64
Evansville 52 FINAL
Indiana State 67
(18) Miss State 67 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
Villanova 47 FINAL
DePaul 49
Georgetown 73 FINAL
Marquette 80
North Texas 55 FINAL
Rice 58
Auburn 45 FINAL
(12) Texas A&M 78
(11) Arizona State 58 FINAL
Utah 48
Missouri State 56 FINAL
Northern Iowa 64
Michigan 60 FINAL
(15) Nebraska 75
Minnesota 49 FINAL
Northwestern 70
Wisconsin 73 FINAL
Illinois 62
Bradley 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 76
Florida 67 FINAL
Vanderbilt 58
(20) Iowa 88 FINAL
(5) Maryland 93
(1) South Carolina 77 FINAL
Ole Miss 59

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who wins the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close
Brian Rolston