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ELY… Are the Minnesota Wild the new Miracle on Ice team? Well, no. That was solely designed to grab your attention. The real miracle will be if the Wild are still in a playoff position by the time you read this sometime on Thursday. Yessir, that’s how perilous of a place the club finds itself in at this point. And the hard part, the bad news, or whatever you want to call it is that the team isn’t showing any signs of a revival. There are many things ailing this team and no apparent quick solutions available from any angle. No coaching maneuvers, no Iowa callups, no one returning from the IR, trades, divine intervention, a visit from the Hockey Pope, nuthin’ is pulling this mess out of the campfire right now. Might as well throw a can of beans on there too, at least you’d have a better explanation for that gas buildup you’ve been experiencing.
Yesterday in St. Paul, in a 4-0 whitewash versus the hottest team in pro hockey right now, the St. Louis Blues, (10-0 L10) as well as a longtime and hardcore rival at that, every flaw of this team was pretty much exposed. Offensively, defensively, and on special teams, the total team effort was lackluster. The Blues were on a back to back and traveled, the Wild were at home all week and yesterdays game was, well, I’m at a loss for printable words here. Did I also mention that this was the Sunday afternoon National TV broadcast accompanying Hockey Day in America? Way to represent the State of Hockey boys. But let’s look at the immediate future here, we all pretty much know the story leading up to this point; the club is 1-8 since the All-Star break. For reasons unknown to most sane hockey minds, the team is still in 8thplace in the West and in the 2ndWild Card spot.
This will end soon. In this evening’s competition, two teams that had been trailing the Wild by 3 points in the standings were victorious, (CHI 8-7 over OTT and COL 3-0 over VGK) and have closed that gap to one solo point. On Tuesday eve in St. Paul, yet another home game, the club will play the Anaheim Ducks, who have been having a mostly putrid season, but in their last visit here prior to the All-Star game were gifted a 3-0 win by the Wild, their first in 12 games. I have no word as to whether the Wild took them out for postgame steak dinners too but would hardly be surprised if they had. The team is an unusual 13-17 at Home right now which has usually been their invincible fortress in most seasons. But this hasn’t turned out to be like most seasons.
The Wild will play 4 games in 6 nights and that’s not good for a struggling team. In addition to the Ducks they travel to the NYR on Thursday, then DET on Friday before hosting another return match with STL on Sunday. I want to try to be positive here, but I see a 2-2 week at best and most likely a 1-3 finish. The Blackhawks will finish up this week at DET, vs COL and vs DAL. The Avalanche have the Jets at home, then go to CHI and finish up with a back to back vs NASH. One of these two clubs will pass the Wild by the end of the week and my educated guess is that it will be CHI. In addition to STL they are the next hottest club at 8-2 in their L10. There are 3 nuclear hot clubs in the league right now, who is the other? The Carolina Hurricanes! They are also 8-2 in their L10, but the biggest surprise is that since acquiring the Big Swiss National from the Wild, Nino Neidereitter, the team is 9-4! El Nino’ himself is at 13GP with 8G and 5A for 13 points. A point per game pace. Good for Nino. I am left now to try to figure out why Coach Bruce Boudreau could never find the proper spot in the lineup to make the most of Nino’s talents. I don’t expect him to continue his current pace, but he is mostly making the Wild the losers in his trade deal thus far. Victor Rask has done nothing.
There are 7 weeks and 23 games left for the Wild and here is what they are up against; they have 60 points now, and if it will take 90 points to get a Wild Card spot in the West, they will have to obtain 30 of a possible 46 points available to them. That is a .652-win percentage for the rest of the way by going 15-8. The team win percentage for the month so far is .125. The reality has set in. Rearranging the deck chairs at seasons end isn’t an option. This organization needs to clean house up top, take an inventory of the roster and gauge player values and get on with it. This will be a vastly different looking club come next October….
MANY RUMORS have surfaced regarding several appearances by former NorthStar, Dallas Star and Detroit Red Wing player and Hall of Famer Mike Modano in St. Paul in the very recent past. The Athletic writer Mike Russo did an article on this today and there was a mini-segment about this on Hockey Central from Toronto. While Russo speculated that Modano could be headed for an upper level management role such as Head of Hockey Operations with the club, Elliott Friedeman of TSN had stated that he didn’t feel that Modano wanted to dive in that far and would be more interested in a role that offered a variety of mid-level responsibilities. Modano has retained a high level of popularity here but I am left to ponder what level of expertise he would bring in and how it would impact the team fortunes…
THE TRADE DEADLINE IS next Monday the 25that 1500ET. I have heard the team is trying hard to move Charlie Coyle and that Eric Staal is making it difficult for the team to shop him. He has a ten team “no trade” list. The rest of this week should be interesting… PEACE
WILD DATA; The ATHLETIC, (2/18) 20th, trending for 85 points with a 38% chance at the playoffs and a 1% chance at a Cup win. The SAGARIN, (thru 2/17) 20thon a 27-32 record, 8-11 vs T10, 10-19 vs T16 with a difficulty of schedule of 28th. NHL STATS; 19thwith 27 wins, 19thwith 60 points, 20thin pct. of points available @ .508. Overall record of 27-26-6, 8thin the Western Conference, in 2ndWild Card playoff position. Home/13-12-5, Away/14-14-1, 2-5-3 in L10. GF, 26th/164, GA, 13th/176, Differential of -12. PP, 15th/ 20.8%, PK, 13th/ 81.1% and 15thin PIM’s with 506. OVER & OUT!