Five weeks of the 2014-15 regular season have gone by in a flash. By now, teams have played between 10 and 14 games. Teams like the Calgary Flames and the Nashville Predators have surprised everyone with a torrent start, while the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars have been unable to live up to their hype. For the Minnesota Wild, they have begun the year with a 7-4-0 record. Definitely a good start, but one that everyone knows could, and should, be better.
In Week Five, the Wild continued a hot streak, but fell to the Penguins on Wednesday, going 2-1-0 on the week. It was their first loss at home of the season. Last Thursday, Minnesota battled back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period, fuelled by two Kyle Brodziak goals, to take the game to a shootout. Both Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville scored in the shootout while Kuemper allowed just one goal to secure the comeback win. On Saturday, the Minnesota Wild hosted the slumping Dallas Stars. The Wild controlled the game from start to finish, outshooting the Stars 30-20. Minnesota finally got their first power play goal of the season, and Thomas Vanek’s as well. Zach Parise recorded two assists and the Wild cruised to a 4-1 victory. Then, on Tuesday, the red hot Pittsburgh Penguins came to town. Minnesota was noticeable slow out of the gate, but eventually got to their game. Unfortunately for them, Thomas Greiss played unbelievable. They outshot the Pens 34-22 but came out on the wrong end of a 4-1 decision. It looked as if Minnesota was staging another comeback in the third when Mikko Koivu brought them within one goal with three minutes remaining. However, a brutal call by the official ruled that Mikael Granlund had interfered with Greiss and the goal was waved off. Unfortunately, a bad call ruined any chance of a come form behind victory.
In Week Six, the Minnesota Wild head out on a three game road trip to the Eastern Conference. They will face the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens and New Jersey Devils. The East is knowingly a lot less talented than the West. That being said, all three teams are off to great starts and the Wild will need to play a solid 60 minutes of hockey in all three games to come out victorious. My prediction for Week Six is a 2-0-1 record.
Minnesota Wild Proving Exceptional Depth
Through 11 games, the Wild have had all four forward lines producing at a constant rate. There are nine forwards, three full lines, of Wild who are putting up at least a half point per game. Mike Yeo has been able to confidently roll all four lines thus far. Lately, the third line has been a mixture of Thomas Vanek, Kyle Brodziak and Nino Niederreiter. They’ve scored five of Minnesota’s nine goals in the week. If their top two centers can get back to the level they’re expected to be at, this team will be an absolute force.
Matt Cooke has missed the last three games and has not been given a date or return yet. He was playing great thorough eight games, scoring two goals and four assists, with a +5 rating. Jared Spurgeon has missed the past two games and has not yet been cleared to play on Thursday against Ottawa. Surgeon has two goals and four assists in nine games this year with a +7 rating. Also, Zach Parise did not practice on Wednesday and will not travel with the team on the road trip this week. He suffered an upper body injury against the Penguins. Minnesota will need to really rely on their depth this week without it’s leading scorer.
Contributor for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Prospects. Scout with the Oakville Blades of the OJHL. For questions, concerns, or comments, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @SlawsonTHW.