The first half of the season is officially in the books for the Minnesota Wild. The Wild are currently 22-17-7 through 46 games of this season. Had I been told before the season started that the Wild were going to have 51 points and be 1 point out of 8th in the Western Conference with 51 points heading toward the All-Star break, I would have been satisfied. And though it may be a little more begrudgingly than I would have thought, I still am. The main difference is the Wild’s unexpected hot start. The Wild started this season with a healthy roster, a new head coach, some well known new faces, and a hopeful fan base. This team showed what it was capable of being trough the first two months of the season. In comparison, the last month and a half have shown just how hard the season can get. The Wild have gone 2-6-2 in their last 10 games, and 0-10-2 in their last 12 road games. The Wild are limping into the All Star break. They have plummeted from 1st in the Western Conference to 9th. The good news for the Wild, is it has a good chance to get easier. The Wild are in the middle of the hardest part of their schedule by far. The Wild have 3 home games in January. They are at the end of a brutal road trip that took them to Chicago (5-2 L), St. Louis (3-2 OTL), Philadelphia (5-1 L), and Toronto (being played tonight). The schedule from February on is more home heavy, and the hope is the Wild will get some of their IR back. The Wild are currently playing without Mikko Koivu, Guillaume Latendresse, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. While there is no timetable for Gui or PMB (Post Concussion Syndrome), the word on the street is that they are expecting them to come back. With or without injuries, the Wild will have to find some of that belief and tenacity that they had in October and November to climb back into the playoffs.
Some first half notes and musings:
-Mikko Koivu is having a tremendous year. He is leading the Wild in points and deserves the All Star nod.
-Dany Heatley is having a good year. He has 30 points (13-17) in 46 games. This is about what I was expecting. Heater is not the player he was 5-6 years ago (and seriously, who is?). All the people who were expecting him to find the fountain of youth in Minnesota and score 50 goals were just unreasonable. With that said, I think Heatley will end up with 25-30 goals, which at this point will probably lead the Wild.
-Devin Setoguchi has had a somewhat disappointing season. He is at 15 points (9-6) through 33 games. He has missed 12 games with a knee injury, and was scratched for 1 because he missed a meeting the morning of a game. To be fair, Seto has been playing with tons of different line mates, and has been unable to play on the line that yielded him the most success with PMB and Matt Cullen due to injury.
-Kyle Brodziak and Matt Cullen have been playing great hockey. Cullen is elevating his line mates, and Brodziak has been scoring to compliment his physical play. #SignBrodziak
-Nick Johnson, who was claimed off waivers from the Penguins 6 days before the season started has been phenomenal. He’s top 10 in rookie scoring, and has been an energetic young part of this Wild team.
As for the rest of this year, I am optimistic. By nature, I am a glass half full kind of guy. I believe the Wild will make the playoffs. I’m not thinking they are going to have a deep run, but if they get healthy, anything is possible for this team, I have seen it. I also believe that the trade deadline is going to be big for the Wild. This is the first time Chuck Fletcher has had some cap room to work with. The Wild also have young assets and a goalie or two to move. The Wild can be major players for at the deadline, and I expect them to be all in on Zack Parise should he become available. Not saying it will happen, but the Wild will try.
As always, thank you so much for reading. I will not be as long between blogs in the future. It’s been a rough holiday season.
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