Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday Morning Thoughts

In the wake of a 5-1 rout of the Stars last night, the Wild are now 2-1-2 and head out on a four game trip through the Atlantic Division. Here are some thoughts from the past week and for the week ahead.

  • Last night was literally the best performance I've seen from this team since the 2011-12 season. It was a full 60 minute effort, something that was not seen at all last year. The improvement in the team's effort reflects nicely for Mike Yeo, who was on the hot seat (more like scalding seat) Wednesday morning.
  • Back to back wins against divisional opponents in regulation will go a long way for this team when we get to March/April.
  • Josh Harding has performed nicely for the Wild since coming in Tuesday's game in relief of Niklas Backstrom. Harding has allowed a goal in each of the three games and has the team on a nice two game winning streak. Backstrom is set to return this week (thus the demotion of Darcy Kuemper to Iowa last night), but why not ride the hot hand in Harding? I talked about giving Harding more starts before the season, and he has not given us any reason to doubt him thus far.
  • Justin Fontaine scored the game's first goal last night, setting a team record for fastest goal to open a game (12 seconds). It was the rookie's first goal in the NHL. In addition to the goal, Fontaine has played so well he earned a spot on the third line with Matt Cooke and Kyle Brodziak. Yeah, this is where I eat my words from the preseason on Justin Fontaine.
  • Can we start calling Jonas Brodin the "goal scorin' machine"(it has a nice ring to it!)? The kid has two goals in the team's first five games. Last year he had two goals in 45 games. 
  • Hey look! That guy you all hated when we signed him in July, talking about Matt Cooke of course, is leading the team in points (five)! Cooke has been outstanding at both ends of the ice, and has made the third line very dangerous.
  • Matt Dumba is making an extremely strong case to stay with the team this year. He notched his first NHL goal last night, and has looked very solid on the blueline to open up the season. I still think he will get sent back to Red Deer, but the team still has him for six more games before making that decision.
  • Zach Parise has four goals in five games. He had only 18 in 48 games last year. 
  • The upcoming road trip goes to Buffalo (0-5-1), Toronto (5-1-0), Tampa Bay (3-2-0), and Florida (2-3-0). There are three very winnable games on this trip. Buffalo is a hot mess right now, if you can shut down Tampa defensively you are good, and Florida is very very young. Toronto has gotten off to a ridiculous start and will be a tough test (but a good test) for the Wild on Tuesday. The Wild were not a very good road team last year and lost their only road game so far this year to Nashville last Tuesday. Its time to start winning a few more games on the road.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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