Friday, November 22, 2013

Into The West

A nice soothing song while taking in some vicious facts.

Tomorrow, the Wild get a special afternoon matinee (not so special for those of us in the Twin Cities who have the Wild and Gopher Football team on at the same time) up in Winnipeg against those pesky Jets. The game is the team's third game on a four game road trip that has taken them across Central/Eastern Canada,  and ending in St. Louis on Monday.

But as the Wild take on the Jets tomorrow afternoon, they open up a very difficult part of their schedule. The next 11 of 13 games will be played against teams in the uber-powerful Western Conference, as you can see from the standings below. 

The even more frightening part here, is the face that just five of those eleven games against Western powers come in the friendly confines of Xcel Energy Center. And to get even more scary, nine of those eleven games come against teams currently sitting in the top eight.

The Wild hold one of the league's best home records (10-1-2), but have yet to find that same stride away from St. Paul (4-4-2 road record). As you can see above, that is the worst road record out of the eight teams in the top eight.

Eventually, the West teams will start playing each other and they will start to spread out over time. But since everyone is playing and beating up on the East (except Edmonton), there is a nice logjam atop the Western standings. If the Wild want to keep pace with these teams, they need to start winning (or at least pick up a point) when they play these road games. Playing .500 hockey on the road simply might not be good enough this year. That's just how good the West is.

It is stretches like this, that separate the good teams from the bad teams. The Wild have not played a true great game probably since their 5-3 win in Chicago almost a month ago. So now that they are faced with playing playoff caliber teams, it will be interesting to see if the team can shake off this uneven play and start playing consistent, great hockey.

The Wild are now headed into the West. How will they look when this stretch is over?

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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