The Wild, on balance, has performed better than I thought they would this season. I expected them to be a playoff team this season, and they are in position to do just that. A brief stint atop the moribund Northwest Division was a bonus surprise. Overall I've been satisfied with the experience as a Wild fan on balance.
There have been pockets of frustration, to be sure. The 4-5-1 start was unsettling. The paltry offense was discomfiting. The power play continues to be vexing.
But, of late, they're playing as close to 60-minute games as they've played certainly since Yeo came on board. They're getting some offense. Each of the lines is developing an identity, and they're all contributing. The goaltending is the solid-if-unspectacular that we've come to expect. And they're winning games. They're 10-5-1 in their last 16. And there's just a sense that it's coming together.
For every disappointment (Granlund, Bouchard, Harding) there has been a bonus surprise (Brodin, Zucker, team defense). Suter is playing lights out. Cullen has rebounded from a poor start to really be a difference maker of late. Parise and Koivu are developing some chemistry. Lots of good signs.
They seem to have two lines that can be counted on to provide offense consistently. While that's not exactly Chicago-deep, it's still twice as deep as the Wild has been most of its existence. And impovement, in other words.
I'd still like another defenseman, and maybe Brett Clark is that guy. Sure a natural right winger for the top line would be great, but I can't see them spending too much more money on veterans right now.
So, as the back end of the season stretches out in front of us, I think the Wild is in good shape. They aren't likely to get too much pressure from behind them in the division.
Keys for the 2nd half:
*Improve power play