It’s tough for many of you to watch this team right now, I’m sure. Believe me, it’s harder to write about it. There are only so many ways to phrase “poor execution”, “no defensive pressure”, “must score goals”, and so forth.
The Wild dropped 2-0 at home to the Colorado Avalanche and let’s be honest folks, the post-season is a pipe dream now. With 66 points, 16 games to play, and an estimated mid-90s necessary to make the playoffs…well, you do the math.
Were there bright spots? Sure. Matt Hackett gave an extremely strong performance in net. The two goals for the Avs came fast and early, and neither one can be pinned on Hackett. He had zero support from the rest of the team, with Avs players moving around the slot and crease at will. The poor kid needed a flak jacket, because he was getting shelled.
Jed Ortmeyer brought some physicality to the game that we haven’t seen out of many Minnesota players as of late. Matt Kassian continues to park himself at the opponent’s net…too bad nobody throws pucks at him when he’s here. Steve Kampfer played a solid first game with the Wild. Good pursuit and pressure. The rest of the defense should have taken note. Physicality outside Ortmeyer and an occasional hit from another green sweater was just about non-existent, and that’s a major symptom of just how run-down this team is right now. As Mike Yeo said in his post-game press conference, “No excuse.”
Dany Heatley couldn’t buy a goal with a wheelbarrow full of twenties. I’m glad Heater is shooting, I just wish more of the shots would be, oh, say, on net? Force the goalie to make the save, please. Matt Cullen is having similar luck, as is Devin Setoguchi.
We have too many injured players to compete. When solid 3 liners like Johnson are playing on the top line, you’ve been stretched to the breaking point.
What happens now? I think you need to plan for Pierre Marc Bouchard to not return, and put a question mark by Guillaume Latendresse. The Wild cannot depend on those two to be healthy for next year, especially PMB. Mikko Koivu will return, but it won’t matter at this point. The team needs to bring in the high-powered prospects, yes, but needs additional veterans who can put the puck in the net. That means spending a lot of money; rumor has it that the Wild have a good bit available, and I’d say they need to get ready to use it. Parise looks to be a logical choice…but will he want to come?
Tuesday is the rematch between the Wild and Avs in Colorado. Look for Hackett in the net again, Kampfer to likely stay up (especially with Falk possibly injured), and Clutterbuck to become even more frustrated. I think we can all understand the feeling.
Tags: Cal Clutterbuck Chuck Fletcher Colorado Avalanche Guillaume Latendresse Jed Ortmeyer Justin Falk Matt Cullen Matt Hackett Matt Kassian Mike Yeo Mikko Koivu Minnesota Wild NHL Niklas Backstrom Pierre-Marc Bouchard