The holiday season is here, and most of us have probably started filling our Christmas lists with requests for hockey tickets, jerseys, sticks and pucks.
This December, the Minnesota Wild also have a few things it should consider adding to its Christmas list:
1. An End to the Injuries
Since the end of October, the Minnesota Wild have struggled to keep up with the many injuries that have been thrown their way.
It all started with Tyler Graovac’s groin injury in the Wild’s season opener and spiraled downhill from that point. The team then lost Justin Fontaine, Zach Parise, multiple players to the flu, Ryan Carter and most recently, Devan Dubnyk. With a list of injuries like that, it’s impossible for any team to keep up.
The Wild survived the best it could throughout November, but the team clearly struggled with the countless players lost to injury and illness. Minnesota’s 4-6-1 record for the month of November is a pretty clear indicator of that.
The Wild cannot continue like this for the rest of the season. Injuries are obviously unavoidable, but this team has been hit exceptionally hard, and that has taken its toll on the team’s record. Minnesota either needs to ask for a magical injury cure this Christmas, or find some other way to keep injuries away if it’s going to continue to compete in the Central Division.
2. An Improved Overtime Record
For most teams, 3-on-3 overtime is exhilarating, energizing and makes your pulse race. For the Minnesota Wild, it’s essentially a guaranteed loss.
So far this season, Minnesota is 1-5 when the team plays an extra period. That’s really terrible.
While the new overtime style is much more entertaining, Minnesota just doesn’t seem to have what it
takes for 3-on-3. Minnesota lacks speed and a sniper, and those two things are pretty much required for a team to win 3-on-3. Mikko Koivu looks lost, Thomas Vanek can barely make it up and down the ice, and the rest of the team is somewhere between gassed and disoriented. The Wild does have a handful of players that seem to be able to keep up with the fast pace – like Parise and Granlund – but that’s just not good enough.
The Minnesota Wild seriously need to ask for some overtime help this holiday season, or dedicate more time learning to manage 3-on-3. Overtime isn’t incredibly common, but at some point in the season, this team will need every point it can get. The Wild won’t be able to afford dropping extra points in overtime.
3. An Enlivened Jason Pominville
Last season, Jason Pominville was one of Minnesota’s top goal scorers. He was offensive, he was smart, and he was a huge part of the Wild’s success. This season, that all seems to have disappeared.
Pominville has been virtually invisible this season. While he has shown some improvement over the past couple of weeks, the 33-year old is still far from his best. Last season, Pominville tallied 18 goals, led the team in assists with 36, and finished the year behind only Zach Parise in points with 54. This season, Pominville has 3 goals and 11 assists. His shot percentage has also dropped off significantly from 7.1 percent last season to 4.4 percent this season. Pominville has the ability to be so much better than he has been, and this team knows that.
The Minnesota Wild are not incredibly desperate for offense, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask for the Pominville of the past on this year’s Christmas list.
4. A Stadium Series Win
This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you’re a Wild fan, and you’re going to pay absurd amounts of money
for a ticket, and sit outside in the middle of freezing-cold February to watch your team take on the Chicago Blackhawks, you want to see a win.
5. Defeat the Blackhawks in the Playoffs
Speaking of the Blackhawks, it might be a wise Christmas wish for the Minnesota Wild to ask for a playoff victory over Chicago this year.
For the past three seasons, the Wild and Blackhawks have met in the postseason, and every single time the Blackhawks have eliminated the Wild. It’s something most Wild fans would like to forget about.
The 2015-16 season isn’t close to being over yet, and it’s unclear if these two teams will even meet in the playoffs, but if they do, let’s just hope those at the North Pole are fans of the State of Hockey.