Sunday, November 24, 2013

How Good Are the Minnesota Wild?

The Minnesota Wild have gone 8-1-1 in their last ten games, have the NHL's 5th best power play, and give up a stingy 2.17 goals against per game. But despite their impressive 15-5-4 record just past the quarter mark of the season, the Wild find themselves battling for their playoff lives already, as they hold a slim lead over Phoenix for the top wildcard spot, and are currently in fourth place in the Central Division.

The Wild's legitimacy will be further contested in the upcoming nine games. With red-hot goalie Josh Harding out with a lower body injury, the Wild will enter a brutal segment of their schedule with lots to prove.

According to Wild beat writer Mike Russo, the Wild will be up against the best of the west for the better part of the next month:

"Beginning Monday in St. Louis, nine of the Wild’s next 11 games come against the top five teams in the Western Conference and the current eighth-place team – in order, Anaheim, Chicago, St. Louis, San Jose, Colorado and Phoenix. Those six teams are a combined 95-26-14 (.756).

Of those teams, the Wild has only played Anaheim and Chicago this season, going a combined 1-1-1.

So by mid-December, we’ll all get a really good sense of the Wild."

Should be interesting. The Wild have been solid all season, but if Harding and their power play come back to earth, they could be in a bit of trouble here. They'll begin their grueling stretch on Monday at St. Louis against the 16-3-3 Blues.