It seems odd to say that the Minnesota Wild are slightly off the pace in their last five games, but two losses in a five-game spell is actually seen as bad for them right now.
Such has been the Minnesota Wild’s form early on this year, this five game stint that included a 5-2 defeat at the hands of reigning Stanley Cup champions, the Washington Capitals and more recently, their agonising late 3-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, represent a bad patch.
On the reverse of that, the team was able to pull a 6-2 win out over the Vancouver Canucks, who’d taken them by a 5-2 margin in the reverse fixture earlier this season. Likewise, they showed grit and determination in a 3-2 battle with St. Louis and triumphed 5-1 against the Ducks on the final leg of their California trip for the year.
Their pace of six points from the last five represents a very comfortable pace, just not quite good enough to be competing at the very top of the NHL, Western Conference or indeed, such is the cruelness of the divisions, the Central Division.
Instead, they have to settle for second place in the division behind a Nashville Predators team sitting on 29 points from 20 games. The Minnesota Wild are three points shy of that total in the same amount of games.
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No matter how much the team spread the scoring around, there is still something missing on some nights. An out-and-out goalscorer or play-maker would do wonders for closing that very small gap between the top of the division and second place.
Zach Parise and Jason Zucker are great, same goes for Ryan Suter and Matt Dumba, even Jared Spurgeon is massively underrated, but no single one of them is a true game-changer. They’re skilled no doubt, but are a tier below the elite.
We all know that come season’s end, second place is likely to lead to a Winnipeg Jets showdown (again) in the Stanley Cup play-offs.
To keep pace, it’d seem six or seven points in the next five game stretch is the absolute minimum requirement for the Minnesota Wild.
They can start it right by taking some points off a divisional rival in the Chicago Blackhawks when they take them on this Sunday.
Taking away divisional points is probably the most important task of all. The less points they need to rank highly in the Central Division, the better; such is the manner by which seeding for the play-offs occurs.