It's game six of forty-eight, but tonight almost feels like a must-win for the Wild. They're 0-2-1 in their last three, and that's undone the 2-0-0 start, and moved them into a tie for 7th place with Detroit and LA. Obviously it's early yet, but it just feels like a big moment in the season.
The issues are the same: shoddy defense, extremely top-heavy scoring, middling goaltending.
You know, when you look at it that way, maybe .500 and a bubble playoff team is about right.
Oh, they're saying the right things. But if your issues are offense, defense and goaltending, you might be kidding yourself if you think you're a contender. This all gets back to the most valuable lesson of Risebrough's reign: expectation management. The Wild has a chance tonight to show us if it intends to be a playoff team, or if it is going to muddle along and battle just to get in.
An interesting lineup. Surprisingly solid defense. A top four of Jack Johnson, Fedor Tyutin, James Wisnewski and John Moore may not ring a lot of bells for the casual NHL fan, but is actually more-than serviceable.
Look, "interesting lineup" obviously is a euphemism for "keep working on it, guys, thanks for playing" in the grand scheme of things. But the Nash trade has to represent rock bottom for this franchise that's been so ill-run from day one, doesn't it? I hope so. The BJs are coming off a stirring 2-1 barnburner win over Dallas last night, so they have the added hurdle of being tired - not that that hurt St. Louis against the Wild on Sunday, but, ah, let's just say St. Louis is in a different situation - talent-wise - than C-Bus.
Their forward corps, by the way, still looks like an expansion roster. And, not surprisingly, the BJs find themselves near the bottom of the league in offense.
G/GM MIN T19th 2.60 CBJ T28th 1.67
GA/GM MIN T17th 3.00 CBJ T17th 3.00
PP% MIN 15th 20.8% CBJ 26th 10.0%
PK% MIN 10th 85.0% CBJT4th 87.0%
The Wild wins this one, delays the jumping off the bandwagon that so many Minnesotans are seriously contemplating right now
Final score: 3-1 Minnesota
Wild goal scorer: Suter