Sunday, February 10, 2013

What to think?

Minnesota Wild delve back into division play as team continues to struggle

Make no mistake about it. Saturday night's 2-1 OT win over Nashville, was the hockey equivalent of hitting the relief valve on a pressure cooker.

With the Wild finally winning in February (1-3 since Feb. 1, folks) the Wild now take to the Northwest Division, for their longest stretch of the season (6 of their next 8) against the likes of Vancouver (who handled the Wild easily on Thursday night), uber-speedy Edmonton with all that young talent, an improving Colorado team, and Calgary, whom the Wild will be classified with -- IF they don't get this funk turned around, and start putting biscuits in baskets.

Despite the goal by Devin Setoguchi last game, the fact is that the Wild need scoring for the nights when the likes of Parise, Koivu and Heatley just cannot get the job done. It was nice that Clutterbuck got his 2nd goal of the season, but that's also part of the problem; he only HAS 2 goals this season. Granlund is now finding out that playing in the NHL is markedly different than the SM-Liiga, the league that made him the heartthrob of Helsinki.

The fact that Kyle Brodziak has been so missing in action, that they may want to start putting up posters around the 'X' ("Have you Seen Me?"), hasn't helped his linemates. The fourth line, not expected to score bountiful goals, is almost as good as the second line.

The next seven games -- with three games vs. Calgary, and single games vs. Edmonton, Vancouver, Colorado, and the Detroit Red Wings -- will be a make-or-break point for this roster, as everyone knows that the Wild are about 4 or 5 consecutive losses from being on life support. No team can afford three-game losing streaks, and the Wild just went thru their second one already. One 3-game skid in this short season sets teams into panic mode. Two? Welcome aboard, Wild.

Almost unbelievably, the Wild are still only two points out of a playoff spot, despite the seeming inability to win games, especially away from home, where the Wild are an embarrassing 0-3-1 so far in this season. Now, would this be a 41-game full road schedule, 0-3-1 would be a spot for concern, but not the outright panic which the team management has conceded. But, with a condensed, 24-game road schedule, with 6 of their next 9 (and 8 of the next 12) away from St. Paul, the fact is that this Wild team needs to get better in hostile environments. Especially in the Saddledome (it has improved over the last two seasons), and Rexall Place (it's gotten worse, since all those speedy kids showed up on the Oilers roster).

So, we send the Wild off on their first western Canada trip of the season, buoyed with some hope that the season can hold up until the Wild get back home. And the second western Canada trip. And the second West Coast trip. And...and...and...

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