For the Minnesota Wild, when their schedule was released, they no doubt looked at the recent seven-game road stint and expected maybe to take half the games.
Instead, the Minnesota Wild return from a road-trip that involved two stops in St.Louis, one in Edmonton and Vancouver, then the California run between Anaheim, San Jose and Los Angeles.
Head coach, Bruce Boudreau put it best when talking about his team’s efforts away from home, calling the team out as ‘a very determined group’. That is possibly somewhat of an understatement as night after night, living in hotel rooms, the Minnesota Wild players have suited up and got to work.
Boudreau acknowledges the grind of being on the road and I think it’s fair to say he’s been thoroughly impressed by the character shown.
Heading into the trip, the team were unbeaten in their previous five and on Conference-winning pace when you averaged out their points.
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They started badly going down to the resurgent Vancouver Canucks and that could just have easily have been the start of a very miserable trip. Instead, the team were able to re-focus and leave Edmonton with a win before thrashing the Blues in St. Louis.
California, once a scary proposition, didn’t exactly trouble them and their final road game in St. Louis was very different to first time round there. Coming away from the game with another win showed great determination, especially as the Blues really piled the pressure on in the closing minute of that game.
To finish up seven games on the road 5-2-0 shows how impressive this Minnesota Wild team has been. Only Vancouver was able to beat them by more than a goal; San Jose, the only other victor did it by one – a sign of how solid they have been playing defensively.
Perhaps even more exciting is the fact that a Minnesota Wild team so often plagued with questions about where the scoring will come from is scoring at a very steady pace. On the road-trip, they tallied three goals or more every single night, bar one.
Mikael Granlund is looking every bit the superstar, Nino Niederreiter finally ended his scoring drought and was followed by Joel Eriksson Ek. Even Nick Seeler was able to pitch in with a three-point night!
It’s a sign of changing times in Minnesota maybe, that this team can go on the road and leave with ten points of a possible fourteen.
You could almost say that such a lengthy stint on the road has put other teams in the league at a disadvantage. The playing group have no doubt got a very tight bond right now, having likely seen far more of each other in the past two weeks than their families or friends.
Hopefully, back in St. Paul on Tuesday against the reigning Stanley Cup champions, they can continue to prove their worth!