November was not easy for the Minnesota Wild, and December hasn’t exactly been extraordinary, either. Despite the team’s winning record through five games this month, something just seems to be missing for the Wild. A general lack of life and energy has been evident in almost every game this team has played so far in December. To the Wild’s defense, the team has had to deal with an almost constant loss of players – like Devan Dubnyk, Zach Parise and Justin Fontaine – but things are not going to get any easier as Minnesota moves into the last weeks of December and the beginning of January.
Minnesota most recently lost to the Arizona Coyotes in overtime on Friday night, and things don’t look like they’ll be getting any easier for the Wild from here on out. Minnesota has a rough road ahead, facing opponents like the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings and Dallas Stars all within a matter of days. The next couple of weeks could make or break the rest of Minnesota’s season.
The Wild have a decent chance to collect a couple wins toward the beginning of this week, facing the San Jose Sharks on Dec. 12 and then the Vancouver Canucks on the 15. While neither of these games are going to be easy for Minnesota, the team certainly has a better chance of winning four points from the first two games of the week than from the last two.
After facing the Sharks and Canucks, the Wild will take on the New York Rangers on Dec. 17 and Nashville on Dec. 19. The Rangers currently have the fourth-most wins in the league with 39, and the Predators are not far behind at ninth in the league with 35. A win over Nashville is especially important for Minnesota, as the Wild are not far behind the Predators in the Central Division standings. But the Wild’s need for points isn’t going to make this game any easier.
Christmas is not coming early for the Minnesota Wild this year. After battling the Rangers and Predators, the Wild will face off against the Stars, Canadiens and Penguins – all in one week.
Minnesota will play Dallas on Dec. 21, then take on Montreal in the second night of a back-to-back on Dec. 22. Facing the two best teams in the league on back-to-back nights isn’t exactly ideal.
The Wild has been unable to beat the Stars so far this season, losing the previous two games in overtime. Dallas may be the best team in the league, but Minnesota is just going to have to find a way to collect some points from its Central Division rival.
After the Stars, Minnesota will play the Canadiens. The Wild has yet to face Montreal this year, but historically has a losing record against the team.
After a three-day Christmas break, the Wild will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins, in what seems to be Minnesota’s best chance for a win this week. The Penguins beat the Wild 4-3 earlier this season, but after a little rest, hopefully Minnesota will have a good chance at two points – so long as the three days off don’t backfire.
To end December, the Minnesota Wild will play the Detroit Red Wings on the 28 and the St. Louis Blues on New Year’s Eve. As is the trend for December, neither of these games are going to be a walk in the park for Minnesota, especially if the Wild continues to face injuries and illnesses like it did in November.
This team absolutely must stay as injury-free as possible over the next nine games. There are 18 points at stake for Minnesota throughout the next two and a half weeks – that’s enough to have a pretty serious impact on the rest of the season. These nine games aren’t going to be impossible, but they’re not going to be easy, either. The Wild absolutely have to find some energy and motivation to get through the rest of 2015 without taking a significant drop in the standings.
Alli covers the Minnesota Wild and has been a contributing writer with THW since August 2014. She is currently a journalism and sports management student at the University of Minnesota. For all of your Minnesota Wild news and updates, follow her on twitter: @allibaker23