Winning Now? Or Winning in June? 3-20-12
Last night, the Minnesota Wild defeated the Vancouver Canucks 2-0. Josh Harding recorded his 6th career shutout, and his second of the season. This was Harding’s first start since he suffered an injury last week, and he looked great. Erik Christensen scored his 4th goal in the last 4 games on the Power Play at the end of the first period, and Kyle Brodziak netted an empty net goal in the 3rd to seal the game. Last night was the best effort I have seen from the Wild in a while. The team gave a very good effort, and was rewarded with what is becoming a rare win. The Wild have just 3 wins in their last 11 games, and the remaining schedule does not get any easier.
Their remaining games: CAL, @BUF, @WAS, NYR, FLA, LA, @CHI, @NAS, CHI, PHO.
All teams that are in the playoffs or fighting like mad to get into one of the last spots. And with Mikko Koivu yet to make his return from a shoulder injury, and Niklas Backstrom yet to return from a groin strain (though it is said both are close to return), I am trying hard to be optimistic. However, the Wild could be losing the battle while winning the war.
This was not supposed to be a year where the Wild were supposed to be great. They were supposed to be a 8th to 10th place team that was building for the next couple of years with their young prospects. The Wild’s fast start skewed those expectations, and the injuries and their freefall over the past few months have even killed the modest goal established in the summer. Currently, the Wild are 13th in the Western Conference, and 26th overall in the NHL. As they sit, not counting any changes that occur due to the lottery process, the Wild will be drafting in the top 5 at the NHL Entry Draft in June. Looking at the standings and the schedule above, the Wild could easily play themselves into a top 3 pick, and if Edmonton gets hot, maybe even a top 2 pick, if their current trend of play continues. This would obviously help the Wild by giving them an elite level prospect that could possibly contribute at the NHL level next year, and at this point in the year, with things the way they currently sit, that will be the biggest benefit to this team.
(Disclaimer: I am not advocating that the Wild should be tanking for a draft pick. I am simply looking at the current trend of play, the schedule, and the standings and drawing conclusions. Trust me, every time the Wild hit the ice, I want them to win. When they don’t, it bums me out… just ask my wife.)
The Wild will be back in action at the Xcel Energy Center on Thursday against the Calgary Flames.
-Unless Backstrom is fully recovered, Harding should get the start in net.
-Someone must have finally told Erik Christensen that he is playing for a job next year. He has scored 4 goals in the last 4 games, and has played very well in the last several games. If he can keep up anything close to this pace, especially playing with 3rd line minutes and his current line mates, I would welcome him back next year.
-Mikko could be back, but is it worth it to bring him back at this point?
Have a great week everybody.
Feel free to leave comments or questions.
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