With a winless streak wreaking havoc on fans' ulcers, seeing the Sharks skate out of the visitor's locker room to take on the Wild is probably not the best tonic. For as much crap as the Wild have taken for playing the trap over the years, the Sharks are at least equally as difficult to play against. They just pull everyone into the slot area on defense and block away. If you dare try to penetrate into the box, it becomes a feeding frenzy of pain - a practice the super-timid Wild are generally loathe to engage in anyway.
But, when your goalie gives up a softie 46 seconds into the game, and then a penalty shot seven minutes after that...you're really in trouble.
That the Wild persevered and earned the point (off a ridiculous, pinball goal) is remarkable. That they were unable to impose their will on the game - the type of game they're sure to see in the playoffs, should they get there - is distressing.
And that's the key takeaway. This is the Wild, the team you saw yesterday. They might be good enough to make the playoffs, maybe even to win the division. But they certainly do not seem to be built for a long run through the rugged Western Conference playoffs. Seventy games is plenty of time to work out the kinks. There are no major injuries right now (Belanger notwithstanding) and they jsut came out of the easiest portion of the remaining schedule by going 3-5-3.
Now, neither the Flames, Avalanche nor Canucks have gotten their act together either, so the division is still within the Wild's reach. But it's beyond time for excuses here. You want the division title and home ice? Go get it.
I no longer think they have the moxie, and they definitely don't have the leadership to make up for it.
Overall: Wild trail 0-2-1 (GF 5, GA 10)
In Minny: Wild trail 0-1-1 (GF 4, GA 6)
In San Jose: Wild trail 0-1-0 (GF 1, GA 4)
CHICKEN LITTLE SAYS: Three of the remaining twelve games are against teams out of the playoffs. You do the math.
POLLYANNA SAYS: Showed character to earn a point...or was that dumb luck?
STUD: Koivu's clean win made Rolston's GTG possible. That's something we need more of in general.
DUD: Backstrom was unprepared on the first goal, and then beaten like a rented mule on the penalty shot as well as each of the three shootout shots. I know it's not his mentality, but when was the last time he stole a game?
Up Next: The Wild is off until Thursday when they face off against the Devils. Then two more home games (LA, COL) before the last big road trip of the season (@ SJ, @ VAN, @ CGY and @ EDM).