Limping Minnesota Wild Look To Improve In 2015


A new year brings new results. Hopefully the Minnesota Wild will find that statement prophetic as they enter into the first week of 2015 11th in the west with a record of 17-14-4. The Wild are frustratingly chasing, once again, a wild card spot as they enter the last half of a regular season. Tonight’s game against Toronto will reportedly bring back Jonas Brodin, and Jason Zucker is a maybe while he continues to recover from his go-round with the Norovirus. The team has been a lousy 3-4-3 in its last 10, and surely can see itself on the brink of missing the playoffs if it does not find success quickly.

The most frustrating times watching the Wild, for this writer at least, have been the games which players were lacking energy. The goaltending is inconsistent (true), the illnesses and injuries running rampant (unfortunate), and the Wild are not playing their own defense-first style game (We’re not a runner and a gunner). However, what might be the most frustrating is to see the Wild being soft on pucks when failing to clear the d-zone efficiently (Looking at you Thomas Vanek and Nate Prosser) and lolly gag into board battles as if the puck will somehow find its own way to their sticks.

“This is where we’re at, and this is what we have to deal with. And we’ve got the character to get through this. We just absolutely can’t have anybody hanging their heads here, allowing disappointment or frustration or anything to get in the way of what we’re still capable of” – Mike Yeo via Mike Russo of the Star Tribune

Attitudes are contagious. Veterans like Matt Cooke and Zach Parise have repeatedly discussed the need to get back to hard work, and learn to trust one another again. Players need to trust that a player will shoot in a given circumstance, or that a player will be in a certain spot to provide support or catch a pass only to one time it back to the opposite wing for a yawning net. The Wild need their swag back. Iowa up-and-comer Tyler Graovac seemed to inject some life into the Wild on Wednesday night against Columbus during his 2nd career NHL regular season game. Young energy looking to prove itself is always a welcome addition, however, it is relied upon to be the source, a team can quickly find itself emotionally flat.

It seems as though the Wild only plays well when its back is against the wall as a team or individually. Darcy Kuemper played far better, though Wednesday at Columbus he looked great, when he was starting the season and felt he had to prove himself. I wonder if the team is getting complacent and needs a bit more internal competition. Nino Niederreiter being a prime example has seen a severe drop off in his scoring after getting a contract extension, missing an opportunity most recently when he fanned on a rebound for what would have been the tying goal against Columbus on Wednesday.

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Whatever the case(s) might be the Wild are looking down two roads, and the darker more lonely one is pulling hard on their wheel at the moment. This fan looks to see an abrupt change in course similar to last season when the wild had an atrocious December (5-9) followed up by a better January (9-4-1). Only time will tell. The Wild true to Minnesota pro team form can guarantee, no matter their performance, every fan will be on the edge of their seat in anticipation of their next success or disappointing flop. It seems like the biggest obstacle the Wild have for obtaining the former, is itself.