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BIG SANDY LAKE… On Tuesday the 5th, the Minnesota Wild were in Nashville for the backend of a home and home. On Sunday eve they dropped the frontend tilt in a 3-2 SO loss. They achieved the same result Tuesday night in a 5-4 SO loss. They continued to Tampa where, in an unbelievable contest, beat the best team in the NHL so far this season in a stunning 3-0 shutout. They followed that up the next night in Sunrise by losing an ugly game to the Panthers in an indescribable 6-2 loss. The boys came home and presumably rested up over the weekend having had a very busy recent game schedule all funneling down to the final few tilts of the year. The club achieved a 3 of 6-point week for the calendar week. If the schedule has appeared to be pretty cruel, that’s because it has been. The team is averaging a game every other day since February 1st, and with a few older veteran players on the team, it is showing. In addition, this schedule leaves little time for on ice practices and that’s a detriment with so many new faces upon the team within this timeframe.
The team has faced a few challenging situations and haven’t been overly successful within them. So, the club got some needed rest and family time, and were facing down a 5 game homestand. When you don’t have to travel and you can practice at your own facility, have your meetings in your own space, get nutrition prepared by your team Chef and so forth, that means quite a bit to the players who do this for a living. Last week had 4 games on the docket. San Jose, then Dallas, followed by the two New Yorkers, the Rangers and Isles in a back to back on Saturday and Sunday. They played a miserable game and were shutout by the Sharks 3-0. That was followed by what may have been the worst performance I have seen from this team this season, they were beat 4-1 by the Twin Cities former NHL club, Dallas. Saturday looked to be a bit less of a challenge playing a NYR team that got popped pretty good the night before in Calgary, got into St, Paul in the wee hours and were suiting up for a game a matter of hours later. The Wild prevailed in a 5-2 victory and looked like they had some life.
Perhaps that was because on Friday Coach Bruce Boudreau had individual chats with the full roster about Thursday nights game whereby the team was absent in every phase of the game. I mean, it was bad, and I’m being nice here. I can’t say if or how Boudreau may have dressed down a few guys and their lack of effort versus the Stars, but knowing Boudreau, some sort of honest, straightforward message was imparted by the Coach. This is a guy that has quite literally seen it all in the hockey business. Sunday night the resurgent and Metropolitan Division leading NY Islanders were in town and prevailed in what was a very hard-fought game. The Final was 3-2 in a short-lived OT. But the team put up a very respectable effort here. They didn’t get rewarded for what they put into it. The net-net of the week though was that they once again failed to make any forward movement in the Central Division and did not progress in their quest for a Wild Card playoff spot. They obtained 3 of a potential 8 points. Also, at this juncture, Arizona has passed them and now holds the 2nd WC position by 1 point over the Wild with both at the 73 GP marker. It will not get easier for the team in Green as we wind down the final 3 weeks of the campaign. In fact, it just might be downright cruel from a competitive standpoint.
The West is still bunched up at the bottom of the race for a playoff spot with literally 8 teams separated by 11 points. You have STL in 3rd place in the Central at 82 points and 10 games remaining, and then in the 1st WC is DAL/80 pts/10GR, , in the 2nd WC is ARI/78/9GR, and then for those outside looking in are MIN/77/9GR, COL/74/10GR, CHI/74 10GR, VAN/72/9GR and EDM/71/10GR. It is unlikely that EDM and Van can make up enough points to get in. But its not out od the question for CHI or COL to go on a mini-run and at the least knock the Wild back a place or two. The problem for the Wild is that they don’t have a very accommodating schedule remaining. In fact, it is brutal. Starting on Tuesday eve they play COL, which ends this homestand, and while they popped the AV’s hard the last time they met, (5-2 in Denver) the Wild success against this team over the past few seasons has been negligible with a 6-6 record. My biggest question is in which Wild team shows up on Tuesday night. And the best answer I can come up with is who knows.
An exam of remaining scheds and how I believe they will go is this; STL is banged up, but I see 5 more winnable games there. For ARI, they are in good shape and I see a potential 6 more wins for them. For the Wild, and I’m not trying to be harsh here, but look it up for yourself, I see one more win this year, maybe two. The GR are ugly. For the Av’s I see 3 more, CHI, I see a possible 4 more wins. VAN and EDM would need a couple of miracles, they have two many points to make up. ANH and LAK are toast, burnt toast at that. For the Duck, they are a mess with a handful of aging slow guys with big money still due them. That, and after GM Bob Murray fired Coach Randy Carlyle earlier, it’s time for the Samueli’s to dismiss Murray. That team is a mess as are the Kings. It is likely going to take some time to make them competitive again. For our State of Hockey boys, I just can’t see them getting in right now. Post season I will perform a breakdown of the breakdown, until then… PEACE
WILD DATA; The ATHLETIC, (from 3/18AM) 20th, trending for 86 points with a 26% chance at the playoffs and a .2% chance of a Cup. The SAGARIN, (3/17PM) 21st on a 34-39 record, 10-13 vs T10, 15-23 vs T16 with a schedule difficulty of 16th. NHL DATA and STANDINGS; 19th with 34 wins, 19th with 77 points, 20th on pct. of points available @ .527. 5th in the Central Division on a 34-30-9 record, 15-15-7 @ H, 19-15-2 @ A, 4-3-3 in L10. 23rd in GF/198, 12th in GA/210. Goal Diff of -12. 13th on PP/20.6%. 19th on PK/80.2%. 12th with 581 PIM’s. OVER & OUT!