With the holidays right around the corner, the Minnesota Wild sit at the top of the Central Division. In almost every way you look at it, the season, up to this point, has been a terrific success.
However, that doesn’t mean with the holidays right around the corner, the Wild don’t have their own Christmas list. Every team has things they wish will come true, and it’s time to look at a few items the Minnesota Wild might have on their Christmas wish list this season.
Quick Injury Recovery
The past couple of weeks haven’t been favourable for the Wild in terms of injuries, as both Joel Eriksson Ek and captain Jared Spurgeon have gone down with injuries, and no exact timeframe for how long they will be out of the lineup.
Spurgeon re-aggravated an injury against the Buffalo Sabres on October 16th. The injury, which is assumed to be lower-body, didn’t appear evident on the ice; instead, he left after just one shift into the game’s final period.
He’s a player that simply can’t be replaced easily. Ice time for players such a Jordie Benn and Jon Merrill will undoubtedly rise, but they can’t perform at the level of Spurgeon with the same amount of ice time. Calen Addison may get a call-up, but throwing him into a top-four role right now might be too much pressure for a 21-year-old.
Joel Eriksson Ek, on the other hand, was injured in Monday night’s loss against the Dallas Stars. He has been the team’s best centre’s this season with 11 goals and nine assists while remaining a dominant defensive player.
Like Spurgeon, he isn’t someone who one singular player within the organization can replace. With his injury being so recent, there isn’t a whole lot of information on how long he will be out of the lineup.
The Wild must be hoping for speedy recoveries for both players, who are key pieces in this lineup. Significant time out from either player drastically changes the team’s overall quality. If there’s a Christmas list Bill Guerin and company are drawing up, this must be near the top.
Successful Winter Classic
This has been a long time coming for the Minnesota Wild, who are finally set to host the Winter Classic after it was cancelled last season due to the pandemic causing havoc with scheduling.
A successful Winter Classic doesn’t even necessarily need to include the Wild being victorious in the game, although it certainly would be nice.
Instead, the organization is really just hoping for the game to occur, which very few NHL games actually have lately. The Wild have been relatively good with keeping their COVID-19 cases down, which is why their game on Monday was the only one not to be postponed.
Everything going smoothly on January 1 would surely be something the Wild will be wanting Santa’s help with right now. After their wait with hosting this spectacular event, good weather, ice conditions, fan experience, and more would be an excellent reward for the State of Hockey.
Central Division Title
Barring some sort of disaster during the second half of the regular season, the Wild seem poised to be heading to the playoffs. With a record of 19-9-2, they sit atop the Central Division standings through 30 games.
However, they have many very talented teams on their trail trying to climb into that top spot. Both the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators are just one point back, while the Colorado Avalanche are just four points back, with three games in hand. The Winnipeg Jets, as well as Dallas, are also very talented teams that could get hot and go on a run in the new year.
Winning their division is something the Wild haven’t accomplished since the 2007-08 season, when they won the Northwest Division with a record of 44-28-10. Winning their division would solidify their magnitude of roster decisions made this past off-season an enormous success and give them some advantages heading into the postseason.
Securing home-ice advantage for rounds one and two will have massive benefits, not to mention the added confidence a team gets from winning their division. The Wild will be striving this season to make it past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
Obviously, the overall health and safety of everyone are on each team’s wish list to Santa, as the new Omicron variant has really impacted the NHL over the past few weeks.
However, looking at the Minnesota Wild individually, they hope they were good enough to end up on the “nice list” and have these wishes granted for them this holiday season.
Sports writer covering the Minnesota Wild. Graduated with a degree in sport media, also working with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.