As the season inches closer, let’s examine the Minnesota Wild’s competition in the temporary realigned division this season.
It is official, the NHL will be back in a couple of weeks and it appears the divisions are finally finalized after the Wild went back and forth between the Central and West.
The NHL will have temporary division realignment in the upcoming season because of Covid-19. The Minnesota Wild will be leaving the Central Division and will be in the West division. This also means that the game times will be later, albeit it does sound like the NHL is arranging some accommodations in terms of game times.
The Wild will be in a division with the Ducks, Coyotes, Avalanche, Kings, Sharks, Blues, and Knights. This is really good news for the Wild because they won’t be playing the Hurricanes, Stars, Predators, and Lightning.
The Wild simply have a better shot at securing a playoff spot in the West division. Let’s examine the Wild’s competition moving forward.
Disclaimer: This list is not ranking the teams in the division in order in terms of their talent, it is rather a ranking of how the Wild play against these teams.
Ranking the Wild’s Competition In The Realigned Division From Easiest to Hardest
#7 Anaheim Ducks
The Wild played really well against the Ducks last season. The Wild went 2-0-1 against the Ducks and didn’t surrender a point in regulation. However, the games were close and the Wild only outscored the Ducks by a single goal.
The Ducks didn’t do much this offseason, their only significant move was adding Shattenkirk. Unless John Gibson can return to form, the Wild shouldn’t have an issue playing against them.
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#6 San Jose Sharks
The Wild went 1-2 against the Sharks in the 2019-20 campaign. The Wild were outscored 10 to 8 in the three performances. The Wild didn’t play the best against the Sharks last season and will need to improve since the Wild will be playing them a lot more.
The Sharks acquired Ryan Donato and Devan Dubnyk in two separate trades. While Donato is a strong addition, adding one of the worst goaltenders in the league puts them further away from contention. The Wild will have more firepower up front this upcoming season, so it shouldn’t be difficult to score on one of the worst goalie tandems in the league.
#5 Arizona Coyotes
While the Wild and Coyotes were pretty even in their three contests, the Wild played very strong overall against the Coyotes. The Wild won all three meetings and had a plus five goal differential. While the Coyotes are a strong team, it appears the Wild have figured out how to beat them. The Coyotes haven’t done much this offseason to improve either.
#4 Vegas Golden Knights
There is no doubt that the Vegas Golden Knights are one of the two favorites along with the Avalanche to win the division, but the Wild are one of the best teams in the league against the Knights since they entered the league.
They got the big fish in free agency in Alex Pietrangelo which really strengthens their blueline. The Wild went 1-1 against the Knights and outscored them 6-3. The Wild are 6-1-1 against the Knights since they came into the league too.
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#3 Los Angeles Kings
It’s inexplicable, but the Kings seemed to have the Wild’s number last season as the Wild lost two out of the three meetings. Likewise, the Kings outscored the Wild 11-9. Although the Kings didn’t significantly improve, it seems they know how to win against the Wild.
#2 Colorado Avalanche
One of the Minnesota Wild’s biggest rivals are the Colorado Avalanche. There is no doubt that Colorado is more talented and faster than the Wild. However, the Avalanche didn’t kill the Wild in the 2019-20 season. The Wild won two out of the four meetings and both teams scored 13 goals in the season series. Colorado improved this offseason and will stay a huge threat to the Wild.
#1 St. Louis Blues
The Wild went 0-2-1 in four meetings and didn’t secure a win. Getting one point out of the possible six in the season series is concerning. Likewise, the Wild were outscored 10-5 and just weren’t able to keep up with the defending Stanley Cup Champions. The Wild will have to elevate their game against the Blues since the Wild will play them way more than usual.
The Bottom Line
The Wild went 10-8-2 last season against the teams in the temporarily revamped West division. There is a good chance the Wild secure a playoff spot and could even contend for the third spot with the questions that surround the Blues.
This will be a huge season for the Wild, will they secure a playoff spot or acquire another top draft talent?
Paid Contributor, Gone Puck Wild
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