3-10-14: The Wild had four days to prepare for division foe Dallas and they still lost, snapping a five-game winning streak. Now the Stars are nipping at Minnesota’s heels only three points behind. The addition of UFA to be Matt Moulson will help Minnesota’s offense. The real question is in goal. Rookie Darcy Kuemper has played terrific for head coach Mike Yeo. With that being said, how long can it last? They did bring in Ilya Bryzgalov as a backup, but still I’m not sure how much it will help.
3-3-14: The Wild have won four straight games and both of their games this past week. Minnesota is looking like they will a trip to the playoffs for a second consecutive season. The Wild would benefit from acquiring another goalie. The likes of Martin Brodeur, Cam Ward, and Jaroslav Halak have all been thrown out there. The one that makes the most sense is Halak. Minnesota won’t have to give up a ton to get him and he would provide stability in net.
2-10-14: The Wild picked up five out of six points last week to cushion their lead as the first wild-card team in the West. Goaltender Josh Harding hasn't played since Dec. 31, which could mean Minnesota trading for a goalie. Ryan Miller’s name has been associated with the Wild for some time now. The two teams have a history of making deals with each other and Miller would provide the Wild with some stability in net.
2-3-14: A four-game road trip disrupted any momentum Minnesota had coming off a successful run last week. The Wild escaped with just a single win, dropping decisions in San Jose, Colorado and Calgary. If Minnesota goes on a prolonged losing drought, then they could be in danger of not making the postseason. What they do at the trade deadline will be interesting as they have been rumored to be targeting Sabres goalie Ryan Miller.
1-27-14: The Wild are 3-1-1 in their past five games and goal scoring continues to plague Minnesota as they have just seven goals in those games. The Wild find themselves in a wild-card spot, and there doesn't seem like there will be much push from anyone outside the top eight. They're in good shape to get back to the postseason for a second straight season. Rookie goalie Darcy Kuemper has allowed 15 goals in eight games this month.
1-20-14: The Wild had been in free-fall, but have recovered impressively. The team is now 7-2-0 in 2014 and has caught up to the Vancouver Canucks in the West. It is essentially a three-team race for two playoff spots now in the West. Vancouver has 59 points in 50 games, Minnesota has the same total in 51 contests and Phoenix is four points back but has only played in 48 games. Once they get Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise back from injury, the Wild most likely make the playoffs.
1-13-14: After losing six games in a row, Minnesota finds themselves back in the win column. The Wild have won five of their last six games after winning in Nashville this past Sunday night. They currently hold the final wild-card spot in the West and have a four-point cushion on ninth-place Phoenix. However, the Coyotes have four games in hand. Since Zach Parise went on injured reserve with a foot injury, the Wild are 5-5-0 and averaging 3.10 goals per game.
1-7-14: Minnesota finally managed to string together a pair of wins this past week. A victory Thursday over Buffalo ended a six-game losing streak and a stretch of 10 contests without a regulation win. The Wild's slump has put their playoff hopes in jeopardy. With 49 points, Minnesota is technically tied for the final wild-card berth with Phoenix, but both the Coyotes and Stars have three games in hand. The return of Nino Niederreiter has been a nice story. Last season, he had one point and a minus-29 rating in 55 games for the Islanders; this year he has 21 points and a plus-eight rating in 44 games.
12-30-13: The Wild have lost five in a row, including a 5-4 home loss this past Sunday to the New York Islanders. Minnesota has fallen out of the playoff picture and they need to turn things around quickly. They play their next three games at home against the Blues, Sabres and Capitals. During this five-game losing streak, the Wild have allowed 24 goals. Niklas Backstrom was in net for four of them while Josh Harding was out of the lineup.
12-23-13: Minnesota has just one regulation win in its last six games, including a 4-1 loss this past Sunday to the slumping New York Rangers. The Wild have little margin for error. With 45 points the team is only one point ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes for the final wild card spot in the West. Phoenix has three games in hand. Niklas Backstrom will have to step in and cover for Josh Harding. Harding is on injured reserve to make adjustments to his multiple sclerosis medication.
12-16-13: The Wild salvaged a tough week with a 2-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche this past Saturday. They are 4-3-0 in their past seven games after losing four straight to close out November. Minnesota is clinging to a playoff spot in the West and will play four of their next five games on the road. The good news is three of those four teams are below .500. Minnesota has scored two goals or fewer in nine of their past 11 game, which has dropped them to 27th in the NHL in goals per game.
12-9-13: The Wild played four games this past week, beating Chicago in hard-fought game and thanks to Josh Harding’s incredible performance versus the Blackhawks Minnesota beat San Jose 3-1. The club split wins and losses against lesser Eastern opponents, shutting out the Flyers but falling 4-0 to the Blue Jackets. Ryan Suter leads the NHL in total ice-time (938 minutes) as well as in average ice-time per game (29:19). The Wild are poised to return to the playoffs this season if all goes well.
12-2-13: Minnesota had a tough past week dropping games in regulation to Phoenix, St. Louis, and Colorado. The Wild also lost to Colorado in the shootout to close out the week. After putting up one point and a minus-29 rating in 55 games in 2011-12 and then being sent to the minors for 2012-13, Nino Niederreiter seems to have figured out how to play and survive in the NHL. After being dealt from Long Island to Minnesota over the summer, Niederreiter has 15 points in 28 games this season.
11-25-13: If they were in the East, the Wild would have the best record in the conference. Unfortunately, they’re in the West and sit in sixth place. That’s a testament to how strong the Western Conference is this year compared to the East. The Wild had a good week picking up a regulation win over Ottawa and a shootout win over Winnipeg. Their lone loss came to the hands of the Montreal Canadiens by a score of 6-2. The Wild are 8-1-1 over their last 10 games.
11-18-13: Minnesota had a perfect week beating the Leafs, Jets, and Panthers. It’s been a strong November for the Wild. They’re 7-0-1 in the month and have outscored their opponents 24-13. In their last 12 games, the Wild have lost only once in regulation. The injury to goaltender Niklas Backstrom has to be a concern for Wild fans. Fortunately, they have more than capable backup in Josh Harding. Harding was name one of the NHL’s three stars this week.
Here is why the Western Conference is so strong. The Minnesota Wild are currently tied for eighth in the West. If the Wild were in the East, they would be tied for first in the conference. The Wild dismantled the Flames at home this week and split two shootout games on the road. What Josh Harding has done battling MS is unbelievable. Harding has a 9-2-2 record on the year and a ridiculous .947 save percentage.
11-5-13: After being thumped by the Blackhawks 5-1 last Monday, the Wild managed to bounce back with two strong wins over New Jersey and Montreal. Josh Harding continues his remarkable play by picking up wins in both contests. The Wild have also gotten a balanced attack from their forwards up front and their improvement on the power pay has been a big reason why the Wild are back in the thick of things for the Central Division crown.
10-29-13: Finally, the Minnesota Wild have decided to wake up. They have strung together three straight wins over Nashville, Carolina, and Chicago. Josh Harding did have to leave the game against Carolina with a lower-body injury which is bad new for Wild fans. They’re second in the league in outshooting their opponents at even strength when the score is still close. They will find a way to make the playoffs this season. The Wild are a notoriously slow starting team.
10-21-13: There is something strange about this team. For a team that has the likes of Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Jason Pominville, Mikko Koivu, and Mikael Granlund the Wild have only 19 goals on the year. That should not be the case given the talent on this roster. Maybe their record is indicative of what kind of team Minnesota has, an average one at best. If they don’t turn things around soon look for Mike Yeo to get the axe.
10-14-13: The Wild have been doing a lot things right lately. They lead the NHL in faceoff percentage at just over 60%. They lead the NHL in fewest shots against holding opponents to 22.0 shots per game. They are second in the league in shot differential at plus 9.5. Goaltending has been an issue for Minnesota though. Their .866 save percentage ranks 25th in all of the NHL. They have also killed only 66.7% of their penalties. Rookie defenseman Matt Dumba picked up his first career NHL goal in a 5-1 rout of the Dallas Stars.
10-7-13: The Minnesota Wild have looked better than their record indicates. They lost both games in overtime to Los Angeles and Anaheim respectively. Zach Parise and Jonas Brodin have looked good early on. The loss of Charlie Coyle will hurt Minnesota. Dany Heatley continues to be a disappointment.
9-4-13: The acquisition of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, a year ago, purported success as the Minnesota Wild returned to a playoff berth for the first time since 2007-08. Few has changed for Minnesota with respect to dealing fan favorite, Cal Clutterbuck, to the New York Islanders in exchange for Neno Niederiter, a young 6’2 power forward whose anticipation to make the roster on his new club is highlighted by other budding young talent. Also, to replace the nastiness that Clutterbuck possessed, the signing of Matt Cooke will bolster a physical presence, as well as, Stanley Cup experience. Finally, Minnesota native, Keith Ballard signed a two-year agreement and hopes to have a rebound campaign after a not-so-good tenure with the Vancouver Canucks.
The Wild have always played a fairly sound defensive game and the familiarity with the rest of the teams in their conference may prove dividends early on. Key match ups against playoff ready teams, such as the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks will test the metal of a growing team. The State of Hockey anticipates a season of contention and nothing less.
Wild 2013 NHL Draft Summary
Pick #46: Gustav Olofsson, D
Pick #81: Kurtis Gabriel, RW
Pick #107: Dylan Labbe, D
Pick #137: Carson Soucy, D
Pick #167: Avery Peterson, C
Pick #197: Nolan De Jong, D