The season is 8 games old, but issues with the Minnesota Wild are obvious. The transformation into coach Mike Yeo’s system isn’t complete, but skill and grit aren’t related to system, and so far the Wild simply don’t have enough of either.
Just one guys observations:
- Veteran d-man look like they are at the end of their careers. Zidlicky is the most disappointing of the bunch. I wasn’t a fan of the contract when it happened , but now there is no question it was a mistake signing him. Porous in the defensive zone, and rarely does his vaunted shot get to the net. Zanon’s all but done. He can still blocks shots, and block more shots and you get the idea. Nick Schultz looks like he has lost his game. He is still generally positionally strong, but his physicality is down, and his mobility seems to be going backwards. I wouldn’t be shocked to hear his head is still bothering him either physically or mentally.
- The skilled players don’t look so skilled. If you didn’t know anything about hockey and just watched the first 8 Wild games, I bet you would think Matt Cullen is the most talented guy on the team. I’ll get to Heatley in a minute, but my two biggest disappointments to this point are our supposed place setters. Mikko Koivu is playing with his first real talented line since he was used to sporadically center Demitra and Gabby. So far no change. Heck he might even have more production if he were playing with Bruno and Mietten. His game hasn’t evolved as many Wild brass hoped. He still looks at best like a 2nd line centerman that lacks a top 6 offensive game. His offensive game is predictable and limited. PMB, well, its starting to look like he will never regain his form as a top tier setup man with glue on his stick. Maybe we can ship him to the island and reunite him with Rolston because that is the only way I see his production going up.
- Where is the toughness? Yes, the Wild have a few more players that can check and play the body, but who are the players that are going to take exception when your best player is continually harassed by one the leagues’ best harassers? What happened in Ottawa is inexcusable. No less than five times did Neal go at Heater , and who came to his defense? Setoguchi…once, and barely. This is a symbolic play. If this was Boston, what do you think Chara would have done? Yeah, I don’t think he would have backed down either. The days of the heavyweights are over in the NHL. The evolution needs to be top 9 or d-man that will stand up and create the push back beyond putting a smelly glove in a face. Coach Yeo, you want to be a tough team to play against? I would start right here. Find out who your competitors are.