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Wild's Opening 11 Games


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Was doing a quick perusal of the schedules released for the upcoming season and couldn't help but notice that the Minnesota Wild are gonna have to come out of the gate flying!

 

Have a look at this...

 

Home @ Home with the Central Division champion Avalanche (1st in St. Paul, then in Denver)...

That Denver game is the start of a three game road trip that takes them to California where they see the Pacific Division champion Ducks followed by the Stanley Cup Champion Kings.

 

Then they come back home for a short two game stand featuring the Coyotes (could be underrated in 2014-15) and the Steven Stamkos-led Lightning….with maybe Jonathan Drouin on board at that point as well.

 

Then off on the road again to New York to face off against the Eastern Conference Champion Rangers, followed by the Atlantic Division champion (and President Trophy winning) Boston Bruins....oh and by the way, the NY-Bos games are on back to back nights..

 

Finally finishing off the month of October and heading into the first week of November at home against San Jose, Dallas, and the Metro Division champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

 

Whew...what a way to start off a schedule!  10 different opponents (they see Colorado twice) and NINE of those 10 were in last year's playoffs with the lone non playoff team being the Yotes.

On top of that, they will see ALL FOUR division winners (Ana, Col, Bos, Pit), plus the Eastern Conference champs and the Stanley Cup champs.

 

 

The Wild simply have no room to start off sleepy eyed (no pun intended...YES, there IS a town called Sleepy Eye in Minnesota haha), or they could easily find themselves firmly on the short end of .500 .

 

Fortunately, the Wild do have lots of speed and youth and they will need every bit of energy in those young legs of theirs to get through that very tough opening schedule.

 

 

If Minnesota does well, it could really help set the tone for the rest of the first half of the season, as the team's confidence in being able to play with "the big boys" has grown by leaps and bounds over the last couple seasons.

 

For a long time, all Wild fans kept hearing was "the future, the future"....well, I believe the Wild's time is now!

Will they be Stanley Cup contenders this coming season? Well, THAT might be jumping the gun just a bit yet...but still, anything short of a deep playoff run, and having OTHER teams worry about facing them for a change, would be conisdered a failed season, IMO.

 

Looking at that rogue's gallery of opponents to start their season, they have the opportunity to truly show just how far they have come as a franchise, and how far their young players have come....with still some ceiling to be reached by quite a few of them.

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Fortunately, the Wild do have lots of speed and youth and they will need every bit of energy in those young legs of theirs to get through that very tough opening schedule.

 

Better have your goaltending situation sorted very early on in camp / pre-season. 

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Better have your goaltending situation sorted very early on in camp / pre-season. 

 

That too.... ;)

 

Barring any concussion issues, I believe Darcy Kuemper should be the number one going in, with Nik Backstrom or Josh Harding as the backup.

Not set in stone obviously...but like you said, this needs to get worked out pronto.

 

It has occured to me the Wild may pull some unforseen move and bring in someone else entirely.....which would probably mean the end of either Backstrom or Harding (or both!) as a Minnesota Wild.

 

And this opening stretch of games...yea, team doesn't want any monkeying around in regards to who is their guy manning the pipes.

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It has occured to me the Wild may pull some unforseen move and bring in someone else entirely.....which would probably mean the end of either Backstrom or Harding (or both!) as a Minnesota Wild.

 

As a back-up or as a starter? The only guy out there I see as a guy that I would want as a starter is Chad Johnson. Then what are you going to do with Harding (who is under contract for two more years) and  Backstrom (1 more year)? 

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As a back-up or as a starter? The only guy out there I see as a guy that I would want as a starter is Chad Johnson. Then what are you going to do with Harding (who is under contract for two more years) and  Backstrom (1 more year)? 

 

Well, thinking if Minnesota brings in someone else, it could be either...depending on whether they really think Kuemper is the man or not.

If they think he is, then they may consider bringing in a solid backup....meaning they will have to deal Backstrom.

Honestly not really sure what the Wild can do with Harding should he not be able to play...which is a very real possibility.

 

If they DON'T think Kuemper is the guy, then bring in someone who can be a starter....gasp....whispers of Ryan Miller have been heard around these parts. Brodeur's name has been mentioned on a few local outlets as well. Interestingly enough, Chad Johnson's name has not.

 

Not that I think Miller isn't a good goalie, but IMO, he presents more problems to this particular team than he solves. I just hope the 'whispers' remain just that....noise in the background.

 

Say Minny brings in a guy like Miller, or even Brodeur, and they get hammered with the formidable opening schedule...then what?

Wild would be stuck with either an aged or overpaid goaltender whom many would have lost confidence in before a dozen games are played.

 

No thanks.

Would rather Minnesota take the Kuemper starter/Backstrom-Harding backup route.

Kuemper has shown improvement over the course of time he has been with the Wild, and more importantly, has shown a calmness in the face of adversity.

There were some games where he absolutely stunk it up, yet didn't look panicked, and could be counted on to come in next time and put on a better performance being none the worse for wear.

 

Only thing troubling about Kuemper is the concussion problems he had....two last year....yikes.

But if he shows no ill effects heading into the season, I see no reason why the Wild wouldn't rely on him being the number one.

From all indications at this point, Minnesota still seems to like him as such too.

 

Varlamov, Quick, Smith, Bishop, Rask, Lundquist...just to name a few of the goalies Minnesota will be seeing to start things off....whether its Kuemper, Backstrom, Harding....Minnesota better NOT go into any of these games with an aged hockey shop manager as their 'emergency backup' like they had to last season!  :o

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Honestly not really sure what the Wild can do with Harding should he not be able to play...which is a very real possibility.

 

Just LTIR- and let Harding fight the good battle. To do anything else would be heartless. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

On the opening 11 games....hmmm....I am thinking perhaps Minnesota can get six wins out of those and finish that stretch over .500.

 

Speculating on that, here is my breakdown:

 

One of the home @ homes against the Avs = 1
One of either @KingSkaggz24 or @ Ducks = 2
 
I think the Wild CAN beat the Yotes (they have issues on defense)=3
I like their chances against the retooled Rangers...Bruins the very next day should be tough, so give them one game here=4
 
Home for the next three...Sharks, Stars, Pens....I think the Wild can take any 2 of those three (thinking Stars and Pens)=6
There are the six wins needed for a winning record.
 
Wild give the Stars fits at home (the reverse is true as well), and the Pens need to re-establish themselves as "a team to beat" in the East, and frankly, may not be all that interested in this particular cross conference game...they are like that sometimes...hehe.
 
Minnesota's sound, structured zone defense, improved scoring (on paper at least), and solid Darcy Kuemper goaltending should help carry them through and help them deal with even some of the higher scoring teams like Anaheim, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, or Colorado.
 
So, yea, I'll go out on a limb a bit, go homer pick, and say Minny takes 6 of the opening 11.   ;)
Edited by TropicalFruitGirl26
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I'm glad to see people with as much confidence in the Wild as I have for them this coming season..! I do think Keumper will be Minny's guy, I'd love to see Harding as a backup, it would be a shame if he his condition indefinitely effected his NHL career, which is looking like a posibility. Also Tropical^ do you know what the word on Nino Niederreiter or Erik Haula is? Are they staying or are their terms with the Wild up? I really hope we are re-signing all those great young legs that showed up last season.

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I'm glad to see people with as much confidence in the Wild as I have for them this coming season..! I do think Keumper will be Minny's guy, I'd love to see Harding as a backup, it would be a shame if he his condition indefinitely effected his NHL career, which is looking like a posibility. Also Tropical^ do you know what the word on Nino Niederreiter or Erik Haula is? Are they staying or are their terms with the Wild up? I really hope we are re-signing all those great young legs that showed up last season.

 

You bet ppl should have confidence in this team...they are a legit rising franchise.

And if their trend of smart signings, scouting, and development are any indications, then it will be that way for a long time to come even after the current crop of young players mature, grow old, and pass the torch.

 

I see no way, outside of bringing in an entirely new goaltender, that Darcy Kuemper ISN'T the starter once the season gets underway.

And he deserves it too.

No offense to either Backstrom or Harding.

 

Backs has been a stalwart for the team for a long time. But much like when Manny Fernandez handed the starting reigns to him long ago, I think he must do so for Kuemper.

Backstrom's age and chronic back issues demand that.

 

As for Harding, just a damned shame. He really was coming into his own, and in fact, probably would have taken the starter's role on the team himself had he not been diagnosed with MS. Not even quite 30 years old, or just turned 30. Just too young to have his career taken away like it looks like it might.

 

MS is no joke. It is a very debilitating disease that can be contained, but not cured....his body will just get continue to get worse....only a matter of time unfortunately.

And the team just can't bank on some miracle recovery.

Someone on this site suggested the team LTIR him, continue to pay him while he battles this along with his family, and I agree.

 

But the team, on the ice, needs more than I believe Harding will be able to provide moving forward.

 

And finally, @MinnyNorthernLights , Erik Haula did get another year tacked on to his contract. $900K and he will still be an RFA when that is over.

Nino is still sitting as an RFA, according to capgeek. Not sure what is taking long with that deal. Looks like a no-brainer to me to bring him back. It might be number and term crunching. He made about $2.8 M per at the end of his last deal, the Wild DO have cap space, but I imagine the Wild and his agents are looking for the right numbers to satisfy everyone.

I would be very surprised if he doesn't get re-signed.

I think he could be a steady top six guy on the team.

Edited by TropicalFruitGirl26
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@TropicalFruitGirl26  I really don't know how you could draw a tougher schedule. If they come out of October over .500, that is saying something. One thing for sure, they will know early how they shape up against hockey's elite. Gonna need both goalies rolling and fresh to take on this kind of barrage.

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@TropicalFruitGirl26  I really don't know how you could draw a tougher schedule. If they come out of October over .500, that is saying something. One thing for sure, they will know early how they shape up against hockey's elite. Gonna need both goalies rolling and fresh to take on this kind of barrage.

 

No doubt this is a killer of an opening draw and normally, i would be thinking "Wow, how are the Wild gonna get through this in good shape!?"

That's because in the past, Minnesota has been that team that always had to try to measure up to everyone else. Had to always do 'all they could to play with the better teams', always had to be that little engine that could.

 

While they still have much to prove as a franchise and as a collection of players this year, I also feel that Minnesota has reached a point in their franchise with this group of players where THEY are one of the big boys now. Teams need to worry that "The Wild are coming to town", or "Man, we have to go into St. Paul tonight".

 

Not anointing Minnesota as the Next Big Thing, but they have put together a pretty nice group that has slowly been getting better and better every year, while still missing a key ingredient here and there, but nonetheless, I feel, can be considered among the upper group now in the Western Conference.

 

As a Wild fan, I've heard nothing but "the future, the future, the future".

Well, i think the future is now. The Wild's window is now open and their time is now to take their shots at the Stanley Cup over the next couple seasons or so.

I mean, given the players (both young players and guys in their prime) on this team, why NOT the Wild now?

 

So in that regard, I think they can measure up pretty well against the West's and NHL's best. I just don't see this team as the underdog they have been for several seasons now.

Some of those matchups in the opening schedule, the Wild will be clear underdogs, others they should be favorites, still others a pick'em...and probably not by much either way.

An exciting time to be following this team!

 

That all said, yes, Minnesota still needs to show the NHL that they not only can play with the big boys, but that they ARE one of the big boys now, and they do that, simply, by going out on the ice and getting W's.

Should the Wild falter to start the season (say they go 4-7 or something like that) questions WILL be raised...and rightly so.

It won't be the end of the world if they don't start out like fire (82 games is a LONG way), but it will surely put a dent in the perception of the team really 'being ready for the big time'.

The team though, has enough talent and character on it that I think they can survive even a slow start and still turn this into another playoff season, and maybe more.

 

But I think the Wild do well. Ironically, if anything, I may worry about Minnesota playing against the 'lesser teams' in the NHL. 

Do the Wild get so wrapped up in beating the big guns in the NHL that they gloss over, say a Florida Panther team? A Calgary Flames team? A Winnipeg Jets team?

Or play down to those teams?

 

I hope not, but we've seen that happen before with good teams.

That is where the veteran leadership and character has to come into play.

If they play team #30 like they play team #1, they should be fine.

 

Win or lose, this team should give an honest effort every night, I think this Minnesota Wild team does that, and I think they start out showing that against even that tough opening schedule.

 

Can't wait to see what they got come October!   :)

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