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A Wild Week 1/29/12-2/4/12


Guest Todd Varga
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A Wild Week 1/29/12-2/4/12

The Wild finished up this week going 1-1-1, holding on to 8th place in the Western Conference by 2 points over Dallas. This week we saw the Wild lose a heartbreaker to the Nashville Predators, defeat the Colorado Avalanche due to a Nicklas Backstrom shutout, and drop a shootout to the Dallas Stars. On Tuesday the Wild will finish up their 3 game road trip in Columbus. That game will complete a stretch of 30 games in which the Wild played 20 on the road. While the results have not been what the Wild would have liked for the majority of that stretch, this past week saw the Wild play some very good hockey. The Wild look like they are getting back to playing their system, and playing the way they were playing when they were winning at the beginning of the year. They are playing with a confidence they will need for the rest of their playoff push.

This past week also saw Mikko Koivu and Guillaume Latendresse get back on the ice and practice with the Wild. While Gui will take some time to get back from his concussion, Mikko will more than likely be back this week, and has not been officially ruled out for Tuesday’s game. This is great news for a team that is 29th in the league in scoring. Mikko is a significant force on this team. He plays all facets of the game, and will more than likely lead the team in scoring at the end of the year. Since coming to Minnesota, Latendresse has been a goal scoring machine when he is on the ice. Unfortunately that time has been limited over the past two seasons. If this team can get Gui back on the ice within the next month, they will have a lot better chance at making the playoffs.

This past week also saw the Wild make what could be the first of a few trades to help the team before the trade deadline on February 27. The Wild sent young undrafted free agent Casey Wellman to the New York Rangers for Erik Christensen and a conditional 7th round pick. Christensen played his first game for the Wild in Dallas. He registered no points, and missed a shootout attempt, but he looked good for a guy that has not played since the middle of December. He skated well, and fit into Mike Yeo’s system very well. The Wild also made some noise this morning signing young defensemen Nate Prosser to a two year one-way contract extension. Prosser is a very good young defense man that has earned his shot at being a staple in the Wild Defense Corps. Prosser is very good in his own zone, and is able to step up into the offense when he needs to.

When the Wild take the ice on Thursday to play the Canucks, they will kick off the last 29 games of their season in which they get to play 19 home games. The Wild will have to take advantage of their schedule, and keep playing their system if they want to make the playoffs. The Wild are in as good a spot as they could hope to be in after the January they had. They will need to get healthy, play strong and confident hockey, and perhaps make a few upgrades before the deadline to make a strong playoff push.

Thank you all for reading. I’ll be back later in the week with another blog.

Feel free to leave comments and questions.

Follow me on Twitter @Wild_Halo

Todd Varga

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The Heatley-Brodziak-Johnson line has been playing quite well the last few games. Do you think Yeo breaks up that line to insert Koivo?

I'm glad they signed the Minnesota native, Prosser. The Wild are building a nice young defensive corp.

I think it will interesting to see where they are at by the trade deadline. There are 4 if not 5 teams all capable of finishing in that 8th spot. So it's going to be tough with Bouchard and Latendresse out. From what I've read it seems as if Bouchard may not be back this season.

The Wild might be better off being sellers rather than buyers.

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The Wild over achieved big time in the first few months of the season, I was very impressed with how long they kept it up too. In a western conference that is so tough this year I think it would be a huge mistake for Minny to be buyers at the deadline and risk another set back.

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Thanks for the responses. I do not expect Bouchard to comeback this year, and to be honest, I have my doubts that he will be back at all. He has had each of his last three attempts at a comeback derailed shortly after they started due to concussions, and I just don't know how long he is going to be able to do this before he does serious damge. Latendresse was practicing with the team last week, but has taken a break here recently. I think he will make it back, but I wouldn't be shocked, especially if the Wild start to fade in the standings, if he was shut down for the rest of the year. Koivu is practicing with the team, and was center or wing on every line except the Heatley-Brodziak-Johnson line, so I don't expect Yeo to break them up. Yeo said this morning he wont play in Columbus tonight, and is likely to return Thursday at home against Vancouver.

As for the deadline, I don't expect any thing big. I would think we may see some tweaking, much like the Christensen-Wellman deal. I definetly do not expect Fletcher to deal picks and/or prospects for rentals. The team is not in position for that type of dealing. I honestly wouldn't mind if they just stood where they are. If they can get Latendresse back healthy, and maybe even Bouchard, then you have essentially added scorers at the deadline.

I agree BrowntoBure- I think it would be a terrible mistake and misuse of resources to sell of prospects or picks to be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. The only way I see it working, is if they get a guy who helps them beyond this year, which is always hard to come by.

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