Thursday, November 24, 2011

Be Thankful

For a change, the Wild are sitting nicely in the standings this Thanksgiving. They have stunned everyone in the NHL with their 13-5-3 record at the quarter pole in the 2011-12 season. With that said, here are some things to be thankful for today while we sit around and eat turkey:

  • Matt Cullen has 8 goals and 12 points so far this year, he scored 12 goals and 39 points all of last year.
  • Josh Harding has fully recovered from his torn ACL and his 6-1-1, 1.82, .942 line is one of the best in the NHL.
  • With the great outings from Harding, Nik Backstrom has stepped his game up (7-4-2, 1.97 GAA, .935 SV%) giving the team a potent 1-2 punch between the pipes every night.
  • The young defenseman (Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon, Justin Falk, Nate Prosser) have carried on the success of playing for Mike Yeo, and have stepped up to deliver on of the league's best defenses.
  • Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley click very well on a line together.
  • Kyle Brodziak gets the job done with good old fashioned hard work.
  • Cal Clutterbuck's mustache is second to none.
  • Mike Yeo has this team believing they can win every night...and it shows.
  • The Wild are first in their division, in their conference, and in the National Hockey League.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving Folks!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Penalties Will Kill

Tuesday, the Wild took 9 penalties in their game against Calgary. 7 of those penalties, resulted in a Flames power play. Luckily for the Wild, Calgary has a worse power play than them, so the Flames ended up going 0-7 in a 3-0 Wild win.

Yesterday, the Wild were sent to the box 6 times. 5 of them, resulted in a Sharks power play. And as we saw, their power play has sharp teeth. The Sharks got two power play goals from Patrick Marleau in the second, and coasted to a easy 3-1 win over Minnesota at HP Pavilion.

After the game Mike Yeo acknowledged those power plays his team has been handing out too frequently saying, "We played a game of chance in Calgary and won, played a game of chance tonight and lost."

I guess its nice that Yeo has acknowledged his teams bad play in the last two games, but my concern is that it has to be fixed sooner rather than later, especially when your next three games are on the road (two of which coming against tough opponents in Los Angeles and Anaheim).

The Wild are not as talented as many teams in the Western Conference, just yet. So they have to rely on playing a very disciplined, hard working kind of hockey game to come out with a win every night (No better example of that then the November 3 game vs Vancouver). So taking all these trips to the penalty box on a nightly basis really dampens their chances of winning a game, and playing more games in the spring.

So please, for the love of all things hockey, stay out of the penalty box. Or it will undo that nice 5 game winning streak we just enjoyed...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Behind the Net: Goalies, The Captain, and Shots

  • After allowing 1 goal in his last 73 shots (All in the previous two games against Detroit), Josh Harding has not only proved he has fully returned from his knee surgery, he is proving he is the best goaltender on the Wild roster. On the season Harding is 2-0-1 with a 1.30 GAA and a .965 save percentage in three starts, all coming against Detroit. It would be smart for Mike Yeo to keep starting Harding until this hot streak ends, especially with the inconsistent play from the team's #1 goalie Niklas Backstrom.
  • After being shutdown for for 10 games and 59 minutes of the 11th game, team captain Mikko Koivu scored the game tying goal, off of a deflection, then throw the biggest check of his career to help set up the game winning goal by Devin Setoguchi. Hopefully now that Koivu is on the board with a goal, his stats will take off. Right now, only projects Koivu to finish the year with a line of 7-45-52, which is down from his 17-45-62 line in the previous season. Hopefully, he takes off and so does the team.
  • Despite last nights epic come from behind win, this team still has some things to work on. One of those things is shots on goal. The Wild still rank 27th in the NHL with a average of 25 shots on goal per game. In my previous post, I said that the lack of shots on the power play is a big contributor to this problem. It still is. Last night, the Wild went 0-7 on the PP before Setoguchi's GW PP OT goal. But on those 8 power plays, the team only managed 9 shots. And on a crucial third period 5 on 3 that lasted 90 seconds, Pierre-Marc Bouchard was the only one to shoot (From a awful angle), registering the only two shots on that 2 man advantage. Too much passing happens on the power play still. They need to just start firing pucks at the net and see what happens. Especially when you rank last in the league in goals scored.