The Minnesota Wild, despite looking awful on home ice most of the season, despite not having a legit top scoring line, despite a whole lot of despites that I've hashed and re-hashed here ad nauseum, is back in playoff position in the West. While everyone's in playoff position in the west, it seems, the Wild was looking particularly down and out a month ago and has somehow righted the ship.
By, of all things, buying into and executing Todd Richards' system. It took a season and a half, but evidently there both IS a system and the Wild players ARE capable of and, more importantly, willing to execute it.
I had been afraid that the "go-go" nature of the system would prove onerous for a team with such a distinct lack of horses - particularly at forward.
Well either I was wrong about the system (very likely) or the system has evolved a bit. Or, Cal Clutterbuck is the second coming of Ryan Kesler. Which he might be. And Kyle Brodziak is the second coming of...I don't even know....but a good hockey player. Which he might be. At this point, I'm willing to believe anything.
Up to and including that the Wild is a legit playoff team. (Please note: I didn't say "contender." I guess that's the limit of my ability to suspend disbelief.)
Yeah, that's right, beating the Devils...ehh...didn't do much for me. But beating the Bs and the Pens in their respective barns (even without Sidney Crosby)....yeah, I'll admit it: I'm starting to believe - in spite of myself.
There's precious little room for letdowns, and today's/tonight's game against the Stars in St. Paul is only the first example of that. The Wild really, really, really, needs to figure out how to win at home on a consistent basis.
But, I'm not even going to end on a negative note here, as I'm wont to do.
The Wild is playing good hockey right now. They're winning games they wouldn't have last season or even earlier this season. They're beating good teams. Somebody pinch me!
Nick: Don't totally suspend your disbelief. This team loves the road, and cannot win at home. That theory will be proven again this evening as they play the sceond game of their ninth back-to-back of the season. The Wild are 1-5-3 in the second game of B-2-B's this season.
They will get back to the 'friendly confines' of their hotel rooms after tonight until after the All-Star break.
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