Tag Archives: 2017-18 Minnesota Wild

Wild Recaps – at the Chicago Blackhawks – December 17th, 2017


Some response to a loss against a big rival for the Wild?

The dream of a consistently competitive Minnesota Wild team within their reach but they still have some obstacles to get past to get to the point of playing well every game regardless of the opponent. A great team loves winning and battles through everything to win any and every game. The thing that makes a great team stand out, though, is how much they hate losing and how they respond to a loss and/or how they respond to playing bad.

I’ve been laughed at for saying, “I hate losing more than I love winning.” I’m not sure why that’s funny but I’ll explain what I mean. Losing sticks with you because of the mistakes that were made and chances that could’ve made a difference weren’t capitalized on. Maybe a shot went off the post, or an assignment was missed, or you were a split second late to cover the guy who scored or many other things that may have turned the game in your favor. That will stick in your mind and just gnaw at you until you get the chance to go back out on the ice and change it.

That’s why it’s sometimes nice to have a game right away the next day. You now have a chance to respond to the challenge of a competitive game of hockey again. Then make it against probably your biggest rival, the team that has ended your postseason more than any other team and everything is there for you to get up for that game and to do all you can to go get a victory together, right? You’d think so but, the Minnesota Wild didn’t really perform like that was the case last night in Chicago.

They came out with a lot of energy and had 5 shots within the first few minutes and ended up outshooting the Blackhawks in the first period at 13 to 9. The Blackhawks haven’t looked like THE Blackhawks for most of this season so it was hard to know what to expect coming into this game but they were on a 4-game winning streak and they still have Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford. Those guys are getting older but they can still get it done. Patrick Kane seems like he’s having an off-year, at least, by Patrick Kane standards. Maybe it’s because we aren’t seeing the nightly highlights or something or maybe it’s because Chicago has gone through so many ups & downs this season or because he doesn’t have the “Bread Man” on his line anymore since Artemi Panarin was traded in the offseason. Whatever it is, he’s still Patrick Kane and the last thing any team wants to do is give him a scoring chance. He’ll usually bury it and then get better as the game goes along.

Mikael Granlund is a very gifted offensive player. He enjoys passing the puck, maybe even more than shooting. That can sometimes be a problem. There’s nothing wrong with passing, obviously, but a player should also know when it’s time to shoot the puck. Mr. Granlund, because he enjoys passing the puck, sometimes tries to make too much out of a play when the simple play might be the right play. This may have caused the first goal against the Minnesota Wild last night.

Granlund has the puck in the corner. Where should this puck go?

The simple play is back to the point because all 5 Blackhawks players are at or below the dots. Staal isn’t open unless the puck was wrapped around boards. Eriksson-Ek could get the puck behind the net but instead he decides to come out in front of the net to be an option for Granlund.

Granlund decides to pass the puck to the player with the most players around him.

Joel Eriksson-Ek isn’t even in that great of a position to do anything with a pass other than maybe give it right back to Granlund but Artem Anisimov is right on him, takes the puck from him and the Blackhawks head down the ice on a 4-on-2. Granlund gets back to defend on the play but who do they leave open on the weakside? None other than #88 Patrick Kane just waiting to one-time a Nick Schmaltz pass into the net to give his team a 1-0 lead.

Granlund came very close to getting his stick on the pass to Kane but missed it. It’s amazing how quickly one little play can turn a game. That Granlund pass caused the odd-man rush and then it’s split second decisions on who/how to defend the play. Granlund had other options in going to either point or behind the net to Staal. Get the puck to a player that will have time & space to do something with it or is in a shooting position and doesn’t have 3 defenders within reach of him. Make the defense turn to find the puck, which will then open you up to go to the net as they all watch the puck.

The Wild did get some chances but, of course, didn’t capitalize on any of them and then came the 2nd period and they went back to mistakes at the offensive blueline, trying to make plays instead of just getting the puck deep and getting the forecheck going. They were outshot 22 to 6 in the period. They took 3 penalties including a too many men penalty that just shouldn’t happen.

Another bad change gave them a 2-0 deficit when Patrick Kane got behind the defense and went in all alone on Alex Stalock and beat him through the 5-hole.

Chicago D Jordan Oesterle sees Saad changing & both Wild players changing and is already looking for that pass to open up.

There’s a pass available to Saad as he’s changing. He’s wide open and would’ve had more of a breakaway than Kane did. Brodin knew Saad was changing and in the replay of the goal you can see him adjust to the middle but he obviously didn’t adjust enough because the pass still got through and that’s 2 for Patrick Kane and a 2-0 lead in the 2nd period.

Patrick Kane's second of the night 2 - MIN at CHI - 12-17-2017 - NHL com

How wide were Jordan Oesterle’s eyes when he saw Patrick Kane behind the defense and open for the long pass?

Going into the 3rd, you had to believe the Minnesota Wild would bring a push to get back into the game. They did but they are struggling to put the puck in the net and the frustration of those struggles is showing. Just 1:41 into the 3rd period, Chicago F #38 Ryan Hartman put the Blackhawks up 3-0 with a nice play from a bad angle, shooting high once he saw Alex Stalock going for the pokecheck. So, now the Wild are down 3-0.

Matt Dumba scored with 14:04 left in the 3rd period to get the Wild on the board and maybe get them some momentum when he fired a laser from the right point into the upper left corner. It was a blast from Dumba, too. It wasn’t one of those Knucklepucks. Corey Crawford was screened by two of his own players so didn’t pick it up until late. Queue up The Imperial March (the Darth Vader theme)….Dum, dum, dum, Dumba-dum, Dumba-dum…

The Wild did get some momentum from Dumba’s goal but Charlie Coyle and Joel Eriksson-Ek were foiled by Corey Crawford to keep the Blackhawks ahead 3-1.The Wild received a power play with 5:25 left in the 3rd period and Bruce Boudreau decided to pull the goalie so they’d have a 6-on-4 advantage and hopefully get the game within 1 goal so they could push to tie it up with 3+ minutes to go. Unfortunately, Ryan Suter whiffed on a pass and the puck went to Tommy Wingels and since the Blackhawks were killing a penalty he sent it down the ice right away and it slowly, painfully went into the Wild net and the Blackhawks had their 3-goal lead back at 4-1. That would be the final score.


Boudreau Postgame Interview
Wild Coach Bruce Boudreau said in the postgame press conference that the Wild are getting frustrated because they aren’t seeing results from their hard work. Then he made a really good point about frustration:

“Frustration is the most useless emotion you can have. It does nothing but hurt you.”
– Minnesota Wild Head Coach Bruce Boudreau

He’s right because the frustration and not seeing results makes the team and the individual players think they aren’t good enough or that they have to change what they’re doing to get results. What they actually have to do is stick to their game and trust it. That means trust their teammates, trust their shots and trust the system. Trust that what they are doing works and keep working at it.

It’s exciting to see what a team does when they aren’t having success. How will they respond the next time they’re on the ice, the next time they get a scoring chance, the next time the same situation comes up where they’ve been scored on recently. It’s an 81-game season and every team goes through some ups and downs. The great teams find a way to get through the downs quickly and get back to playing their game.

We’ll see if the Wild can do that tomorrow night when they face the struggling Ottawa Senators in Ottawa at 6pm on Fox Sports North.

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Wild Recaps – vs Edmonton Oilers – December 16th, 2017


The Wild take on the Oilers. Can they keep shutting down Connor McDavid?

Have the Minnesota Wild turned things around this quickly? It was only 3 weeks ago when they lost two games in a row to the St. Louis Blues (6-3) & the Winnipeg Jets (7-2) and fans & writers were putting a fork into them saying the problems were too hard to fix. Then they got on a roll of sorts and won 6 out of their next 7 games including a 4-game winning streak going into the game against Edmonton. Since November 9th, they are 12-4-1. 3 of those 4 losses were blowouts and the overtime loss was to the New Jersey Devils.

Those losses (and some of the wins) showed the Wild they had problems to fix with their defense and in how they play in Overtime. They’ve improved in those areas as shown by not losing a game that’s gone past regulation, 3 in overtime and 2 in shootouts. But, just because a team is winning doesn’t mean they are playing great. They’ve allowed too many comebacks in the 3rd period and still have yet to play a full 60-minute game of good hockey. They played pretty well against Toronto the other night, though.

The Edmonton Oilers activated their #1 goaltender, Cam Talbot, off injured reserve for yesterday’s matinee game so the Wild should’ve been shooting quickly and shooting often, right? Well, they should have but for some reason this team doesn’t seem to want to shoot the puck. There’s a time to shoot and a time to look for a pass or a better angle for a shot but way too many times nowadays, players love to get closer to the net to shoot. It doesn’t make any sense. These are NHL players with NHL shots and the closer you get to the NHL goalie, the harder it is to score. Here’s one example:

Tyler Ennis after an Edmonton turnover at their own blueline.

Tyler Ennis gets the puck at the offensive blueline and he has the time and space to skate into a prime shooting area as show in the photo above. Chris Stewart should have gotten the puck deep but he tried and hit the Edmonton d-man with the puck as he was entering the zone. He’s now on the right half-wall. Daniel Winnik is coming out of the right corner. Ennis has the puck and has speed skating through the slot. He could take a shot and maybe even use the Oiler player as a screen. He decides to keep the puck and skate all the way around to the left and take a shot from a terrible angle at the bottom of the faceoff circle and, of course, it’s right into the goalie’s chest.

Why not take a shot earlier from the slot? The shooting angle is better. He can aim for a corner and if it misses the net, he has the speed to be the first one to get there or he can get behind the net and set up a play. I’m sure after that shift the coach on bench told him to shoot it right away. Get pucks on the net early in the game. This play was 3 minutes into the game.

Edmonton F #93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored the first goal while shorthanded when Matt Dumba gets a little too aggressive and there’s 4 Wild players below the dots. It’s a power play and yes, you’re trying to score, but you can’t be careless.


4 players below the dots all looking for a rebound, not worrying about defense.

The shot was saved and the rebound squirts out to the right boards and Zack Kassian and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins get a 2-on-1 with Ryan Suter as the loan defenseman for the Wild. The usual rule on a 2-on-1 is to take away the pass and let the goalie take the shooter so he doesn’t have to try to get across his crease to make a save. For some reason, Suter doesn’t try to do that and Nugent-Hopkins gets an easy goal to put the Oilers up 1-0.

Angle 1

Angle 2

In Angle 1, Suter is maybe giving up too much of a gap because the pass is already available then for some reason, he moves closer to the shooter basically forcing a pass. Nugent-Hopkins was able to catch the pass and pretty easily shoot it past Alex Stalock. Was Suter counting on Mikael Granlund to get back into the play or did he think Stalock could get across his crease quicker? Did he think Kassian would hold the puck longer?

Matt Dumba would redeem himself rather quickly when a little over 4 minutes later he would score off a one-timer from a Mikael Granlund backhand sauce pass. Maybe it wasn’t the greatest sauce pass because the main reason it turned into a goal was probably because it turned into a KnucklePuck because Dumba didn’t get all of it.

The tie game would only last a few minutes when a deflected puck goes right to Milan Lucic’s stick and he buries it to the right of Alex Stalock. Ryan Suter makes a great play to separate Connor McDavid from the puck with some physical play but Leon Draisaitl sees a loose puck and gets his stick in there before Suter can pass it away and Milan Lucic wastes no time getting the shot off, surprising Stalock.

Matt Dumba and his aggressiveness would be the main culprit again. On a faceoff in the Oilers zone, Eric Staal wins the faceoff but Charlie Coyle was tied up by Jesse Puljujarvi leaving the puck free for Milan Lucic to grab it and start down the ice. Dumba would’ve been fine if he had just started skating back on the play instead of trying to check the 6’3”, 236-pound power forward but he thought he could make a play and Lucic showed him just how hard he is to move off the puck, causing Dumba to fall down and making the play into a 2-on-1 with Charlie Coyle backchecking hard to try to break it up.

Look how far away Dumba is from the puck. Just play good solid defense with 11+ minutes left down 2-1 in the 3rd period.

There were some other things that played into this goal. Ryan Suter, who is usually one of the best at getting the blade of his stick in the way of the puck when defending, either took his eye off of it for a split second or was maybe more worried about Lucic shooting then passing and that allowed Lucic to make a slight adjustment to get the pass over to Puljujarvi. Charlie Coyle got on his horse after losing a battle for position on the faceoff and he actually gets his stick on the pass from Lucic but the puck then goes off of Puljujarvi’s right skate, off the toe of Alex Stalock’s right leg but right back to Puljujarvi and he just taps it into the empty net.

That’s two 2-on-1s where Suter went to the player with the puck instead of taking away the pass. Is he just overconfident that he can break up that play or is there something about the Oilers they saw to do that on 2-on-1s?

Matt Dumba would redeem himself once again with another one-timer Knucklepuck to bring the game within 1. This one also came off a backhand sauce pass although this time it was from Chris Stewart and it knuckled into the upper right corner over a waving Cam Talbot catching glove.

The Minnesota Wild brought a big push to tie the game up and Connor McDavid, who is not known for his defense, made a great defensive play to break up a Nino Niederreiter wraparound with 50 seconds left that very well may have tied the game and forced overtime.


97 preventing goals, too!

Well, the Wild get right back at it tonight with a game in Chicago to start a 4-game road trip. Will this be the night Mikko Koivu breaks out of his slump? He’s been getting chances, hitting posts but has just been snakebit when it comes to scoring. The Wild should get up for this game and they played a whale of a game the last time they were in the United Center so, hey, Let’s Go WILD!!!

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Wild Recaps – at the Anaheim Ducks – December 8th, 2017

After a disappointing loss in Los Angeles on Tuesday, how would the Minnesota Wild come out against the Anaheim Ducks? The Ducks are kind of in the same predicament the Wild have been in, a team with a lot of injuries trying to hold on in the race for the playoffs early in the season. They had big injuries to two bigger players though. Both Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler have been out for all or most of the season. The Wild are in no position to think any game will be easy, either. They have to figure out how to play now.

In Tuesday’s loss to the Los Angeles Kings, the Wild led 2-1 going into the 3rd period and they allowed the Kings to score 4 goals in a 5-2 loss. That, of course, didn’t go over well with the coach. They looked like they were afraid to play with a lead and all they wanted to do was protect it. They were trying not to lose instead of trying to win the game.

Every team will have moments like this throughout a season that will help them improve and be the team that reaches their potential. The Wild have had too many of these moments so far this season. Is that because the roster changed so much or the injuries they’ve had to endure? Who knows but, regardless of the reason, they need to figure things out quickly because points will be at a premium for the 54 games remaining this season. Last season, it took 94 points to make the playoffs in the Western Conference (95 points in the Eastern Conference.)

This season, it might take more than that because of the number of good teams who will be in the chase. The Wild have 29 points in 27 games with a record of 13-11-3. At roughly a point per game, that would leave them around 87 points. Winning 35 of the remaining 54 games would put them at 99 points. I’m sure they don’t want to be a Wild Card team but, Nashville was a Wild Card team last season and made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals so there’s something to be said about just making it to the dance. Obviously, to do that, they’re going to have to figure out how to play the game the right way with confidence and consistency against any and every opponent on the road and at home.

Did they take a step in that direction tonight? It was a pretty even game in the 1st period but Anaheim would get on the board first with a goal that Wild G Devan Dubnyk said was “gross” as he felt he should’ve stopped the sharp-angle shot from Kevin Roy (Wah not Roy) that squeaked through his five-hole just after a power play ended.

On the highlight above, the announcer says Dubnyk doesn’t battle to see the shot but you can tell he’s peaking around Antoine Vermette to see the shooter. It just gets through his five-hole. The key is where his goalie stick is located. The position of a goalie’s stick is forgotten about when goalies go down or when they move from side-to-side. It’s not easy because of the length of the paddle of the stick and because of where a goalie wants his blocker positioned.

The puck slides just under the heel of Dubnyk’s stick.

Devan Dubnyk didn’t like that he let that goal in. You have to wonder if Vermette standing in front of him played a part in his save attempt. Do goalies try to adjust knowing a player is in position to tip a shot? That has to be very difficult to do so we would imagine they’d focus on the puck and try to make themselves as big as possible to take away a tipped shot. Could Dubnyk’s defense have helped him out on this goal? Maybe.

Angle 1

Angle 2

The biggest thing here is the position of Wild D Matt Dumba’s stick. He’s taking away the passing lane to Anaheim Ducks F #25 Ondrej Kase in the slot but Wild F #26 Daniel Winnik is right next to him so Dumba could put his stick in the shooting lane instead and take away the shot. Can the Wild penalty-killers, or specifically Winnik, talk during the play and tell Dumba to take away the shooting lane? It’s basically 4-on-4 with Bieksa not being much of a threat at the point and the Wild should be able to adjust quickly if the puck is moved there.

The theory is to take away the more dangerous shot which is the player in the slot so this certainly isn’t terrible coverage. You’ll gladly take a sharp-angle shot over a shot from the slot and Dubnyk is probably going to stop that shot the majority of the time. He & the Wild have to figure out how to get rid of the soft and/or flukey goal that seems to happen to them almost every game.

The Wild tied the game after giving up a scoring chance in the 2nd period where Nino Niederreiter covered the wrong player on the backcheck. The replay starts at 2:59 of the video at the top of this article. Nino goes to the puck carrier and Kevin Roy gets the puck with nobody defending him and he tries to pass for the tip-in instead of shooting. That pass goes wide & wraps around the corner to Nino. He passes to the puck up to Mikael Granlund, who’s able to skate through left side of the neutral zone unchecked because of a lazy change by 2 Ducks (the Grey Duck & the Goose.)

When Granlund enters the offensive zone, he has Staal wide to his right & #6 D Ryan Murphy skating underneath him & then heading down the left side. Give credit to Murphy for skating down the left side. Anaheim D #26 Brandon Montour has to account for him and that gave Granlund time and space to find Jason Zucker coming off the bench and Montour didn’t have enough time to react to Zucker receiving the pass, holding it for a second and then go around Anaheim G John Gibson and shooting backhand into the upper right to tie the game at 1-1.

Nino passed to Granlund then changed for Zucker so….2 assists on that play?

So, Nino Niederreiter was credited with the 2nd assist on Jason Zucker’s goal because he passed it to Granlund. The great thing though is he wasn’t even on the ice when the puck went in the net AND….when he went for the change, Jason Zucker was the player that came on for him. Shouldn’t that be 2 assists or at least a +2 for the play?

The scoring shows the players on the ice for the Wild as Murphy, Staal, Zucker, Dumba, Granlund and Dubnyk so how is that scored for the +/-? Do 6 players get a +1 on that play? Goalies don’t accumulate plus/minus stats.

Anyways, sorry for the sidebar, back to the game. Just 2:09 later, Wild F #59 Zack Mitchell* gave his team a 2-1 lead by putting in a rebound off a Nate Prosser shot from the right point. Mitchell was in on the forecheck behind the net and Daniel Winnik picked up the loose puck and send it back to Prosser at the right point. When Mitchell saw that happen, he did what any good offensive player does, he went to the front of the net. He tried to tip the shot but missed but he kept battling, along with F #17 Marcus Foligno, found the puck and put it in the empty net. He battled for position with Cam Fowler, who hooked him the entire way, and won.
*If you didn’t know, Zack Mitchell was a helluva player in the Guelph Storm of the OHL for 5 seasons and he has 16 points (5 G, 11 A) in only 11 games for the Iowa Wild this season so we shouldn’t be too surprised to see him playing well.

So, here the Wild were with the same situation they had in their previous game, a 2-1 lead heading into the 3rd period. Did they learn from their mistakes? Well, they certainly didn’t sit back and rely on their defense in this 3rd period. They stayed aggressive on the offensive end, trying to increase the lead instead of just protect it. Low and behold, the fluke goal would hit them again when Adam Henrique scored on a great pass by Corey Perry while he was lying on the ice.

Corey Perry was taking the puck to the net and he got a step on Wild D Ryan Suter. At the same time, Matt Dumba was battling recently acquired F Adam Henrique for position as Henrique was driving to the net. Dumba saw Perry get around Suter so he abandoned Henrique at the side of the net and went to Perry. Suter was still able to get to Perry and knock him down but Perry slid into Dumba knocking him down. The puck was still close enough to Perry’s stick so he could still hit the puck off the wall behind the net to Henrique, who had skated around to the other side of the net, and he was able to grab the puck on his forehand behind the net and move it to his backhand in front of the net and sneak it in past Dubnyk and the reach of Joel Eriksson-Ek. There was a little puck-watching there by Ek as well.

Once again, the Wild gave up the lead in the 3rd period but this time it would be a different outcome. They responded with some chances of their own and the game went to overtime. The Wild have started 1 forward and 2 defensemen in overtime in an attempt to change things for the better and it’s been working. Matt Dumba would score his 2nd straight OT Game-Winning Goal with a great play to fake a one-time and then skate in on Anaheim goalie John Gibson, go around him and put the puck in the net for the 2nd point and another Wild victory:

Can the Minnesota Wild keep it going against Brent Burns and the San Jose Sharks? They are 6-2-2 in their last 10 including a 5-0 shutout of the Ottawa Senators last night. Brent Burns hasn’t been the same player from last season, either. He has 16 points on 2 goals and 14 assists and he’s a minus 9 in 28 games so far this season. He’s shooting just as much but they aren’t going in nearly as often as his shot percentage is only 1.8% compared to 9.1% last season. That doesn’t mean the Wild should go easy on him, though. He does have 4 points (1G, 3A) in his last two games.

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Wild Recaps – The Wild Flew Right Through Winnipeg’s Jetwash

They are in a flat spin heading out to sea.

Looking for a rebound from a 6-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night, the Minnesota Wild had a great start to last night’s game in Winnipeg against the Jets. They could’ve been up 3-0 if a goal wasn’t overturned because it was ruled offsides when Charlie Coyle’s skate came off the ice just a split second before the puck crossed the blue line. They scored about 2 minutes later to make it 2-0 and then the wheels came off and the Winnipeg Jets scored 7 unanswered goals and won 7-2.

It doesn’t make any sense. The Wild got the start they wanted. They got a 2-goal lead. Say what you want about a 2-goal lead being the worst lead in hockey but this team has no reason to relax with any lead. They looked confused about how to even play the game defensively, like they weren’t sure where to be or who to cover. They stopped competing and winning battles. I don’t care what the score is. You have to keep competing in this league because no lead is safe. Look at what happened in the playoffs. How many multiple goal comebacks happened last season in the playoffs?

Maybe a good beatdown is what this team needs. Maybe it will show them they aren’t doing enough and they need to prepare more and better to win in the 2017-18 season of the National Hockey League. They are no easy wins anymore and they aren’t in a place to overlook anybody anyways.

You can’t tell me this team is as bad as they’ve played in the last week. They’ve had stretches against some of the best teams in the league where they’ve made them look lost. They came back against a very good Nashville Predators team to win in the 3rd period. They even had stretches against St. Louis where it appeared they had them on the run and scrambling to get the puck and clear their zone. Look at their 3rd period production and that they never quit. Before this stretch of bad defense, they shutout 3 teams in a row.Those teams were the Montreal Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers twice. The Habs were a mess and the Flyers have now lost 8 games in a row.

Sure, the defense isn’t as deep and they’ve had a lot of injuries to their top players but that’s hockey and that’s sports. Find a way to get through it & move on. They don’t trust each other and aren’t playing as a team. They are trying to make plays individually instead of making the good team play.

Making a pass at the blue line to a player standing still is not a good play. The puck has to get deep so you can get your forecheck going and that forecheck has to work together to make it work. The Wild has speed and some physicality to make things happen on the forecheck. F2 & F3 have to read the play and switch depending on where the puck is and where it’s going. Sometimes a defenseman will be F1 and then a forward will cover for him. It’s about working together as a team.

Defensively is the same thing. They have to work together. Communicate, switch and backcheck. Backcheck to get even with the offensive player not just so they can barely reach them with their stick. It’s somewhat amazing to see players struggle with how to play the game on both ends of the ice. If you’re a good offensive player, you have the ability to be a good defensive player. You’re offensive instincts can help on the defensive end because you know what the offensive player is trying to do. If they want time & space then you take away time & space. If they are driving towards the net, you drive towards the net. If a player can change the game with their speed offensively, they can change the game with their speed defensively.

Looking at the big picture, the Wild are only 2 points out of a playoff spot. There’s actually 7 teams with 24 to 27 points battling for the Wild Card spots. It feels too early, with 57 games to go, to be talking about Wild Card spots and the playoffs but this will be a battle all season long, especially in the Western Conference. There are a lot of teams struggling right now and really, with so many games to go, there isn’t one team that should feel safe or comfortable with their place in the standings.

Obviously, the Blues, the Jets, the Predators and the Vegas Golden Knights should feel good about how they are playing but they aren’t that far ahead that they should feel comfortable by any means. The Blues have the Jets right on their tail. The Jets have the Predators hunting them. Vegas are only 2 points ahead of the Kings and the Calgary Flames are only 2 points behind them.

The Chicago Blackhawks are in the first Wild Card spot and have started to play a little better lately. The Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars and Anaheim Ducks have had just as shaky of a start to the season as the Wild. You’d be crazy to think those teams aren’t going to play a role in how the standings shake out by the end of the season. Trades will happen and injuries will happen. There’s a long way to go to get to the postseason. This season might be like no other with the mix of teams in the Western Conference.

The Wild have to keep working on fixing the problems and get to playing a consistently good game for a full 60 minutes so they’re in the thick of things as soon as possible. They have the talent and the players to make it happen. It’s hard to see now because we are judging them at the lowest point of the season so far. It’s the same as judging the Blues as the best team in the league. They might be the best team right now but they will have everyone coming for them every game because they are the top team in the West and one of the top teams overall.

The Wild have 2 days before they play at home against Vegas for the 1st time and reunite with former teammates, Erik Haula & Alex Tuch. You’d think it’d be good to have 2 days between games but one of them is a mandatory off-day so they won’t get the practice time they need to fix their current problems. They’ll have to get most of it done on Wednesday. We’ll see on Thursday if we want what happened on Wednesday will change this team. Hopefully, it’s a Golden Night for the Minnesota Wild!

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The 2017-18 Minnesota Wild Need to be Tamed

The definition of tame - Tame The Wild

Wildly inconsistent play has been the problem for this season’s Minnesota Wild team.

This Wild have yet to reach a consistent level of play this season. They’ve had stretches where they’ve looked like they figured it out and will get on a roll but then they’ll have a setback with a loss because of uncharacteristic play. Or they’ll lose confidence in their play and have up and down stretches during the game and have to turn it on in the 3rd period to comeback from a deficit.

Maybe that shouldn’t be very surprising considering the injuries and new players transitioning to the lineup. They made the trade for Marcus Foligno and Tyler Ennis from Buffalo and lost 2-3 players in free agency and the expansion draft. That’s 3 defensemen and around 7 forwards transitioning or still working on transitioning to the Wild’s system when you include the prospects who have been up & down so far this season.

That’s half of the forwards and the bottom pair of defenseman. Add a new defensive coach to that list and that means there were probably some changes to the defensive scheme, too. Maybe that explains the problems as the younger players & prospects have played pretty well in their roles. It’s been the veterans who haven’t brought their A-games or haven’t prepared well enough to be ready for the game. You have to live with the mistakes from the younger players who have yet to complete a full season in the NHL like Gustav Olofsson and Mike Reilly. They still need time to develop but that time needs to be in the NHL. They probably aren’t going to learn as much at the minor league level at this point in their careers.

Those are traits of a weak-minded team that doesn’t yet trust their teammates or understand the system they are playing. No, it doesn’t help that they suffered injuries to 4 of their top forwards but injuries are a part of the game and every team has to deal with them at some point during the season. The good to great teams find ways to battle through the injuries whether it’s a “next-man-up” situation or multiple players stepping up their game.

Last season, Bruce Boudreau said he thought it would take his team until Thanksgiving to play his system the right way. That meant they’d just play the game and know what to do from playing this new system for the first quarter of the season. They wouldn’t have to think about what they were supposed to do in any situation. It would just come naturally after playing that way for the first 20 games or so.

Well, look at the calendar! Thanksgiving is tomorrow and this team has yet to hit a level of consistently good play. They’ve been consistently inconsistent. We don’t know what team is going to show up at any point of the game. We know they won’t quit as they’ve shown with multiple comebacks and the way they bring it in the 3rd period.

The bottom line is they need to start games like they play in the 3rd period. Get and play with a lead. They are still one of the best defensive teams in the league. The offense hasn’t been great but that also shows a team not trusting each other or even themselves as they hesitate to shoot the puck way too much.

It was a good sign to see Mikael Granlund start to shoot the puck more in the loss to New Jersey on Monday night. He scored two goals in the 3rd period to tie the game and force overtime before the Devils scored early to force the Wild to settle for only 1 point. Hopefully, the rest of the team will take a note from that and also start to shoot the puck more and have a shoot-first mentality. Should they shoot every time? No, but they should have confidence in their shots and know when they should shoot the puck. Obviously, sometimes a pass will work better in certain situations but, a lot of times players are looking to pass when there’s a clear and very good opportunity to shoot and to score.

Tonight, the Wild are in Buffalo to face a couple old teammates in Jason Pominville and Marco Scandella. Marcus Foligno and Tyler Ennis return to where they played the majority of the 6 and 8-year NHL careers, respectively, before being acquired by the Wild. The game starts…well…right now so….

#GetWild &…

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