Wednesday, December 18, 2013

3 on 3: The Upcoming Road Trip

Photo: Joe Sargent/NHLI
After narrowly defeating the Canucks 3-2 last night, the Wild are back out on the road for four games that stretches from tomorrow through the 27th (they come home for Christmas though). Had the Wild had a trip like this two years ago, we would be saying our prayers right about now as they would be playing three elite teams (Pittsburgh, New York Rangers, and Philadelphia) heading into the Christmas break.

So lets count our blessings and play a little three on three when it comes to this upcoming road trip.


  • The Wild enter their four game road trip on a two game winning streak. Both games were shootout victories, and came against teams that are ahead of them in the Western Conference standings. Its always to have a nice two game streak under your belt as you start a lengthy road trip.
  • Both the Rangers and Flyers are two of the more noted underachievers so far this season, in the NHL. Both would be out of the playoffs, if they start today, and have had long stretches of just terrible play this year. The Flyers are a bit on the rise, as they are 5-3-2 in their last 10 and have climbed to 9th in the East (one of those losses came to Minnesota back on December 2nd). Meanwhile, the Rangers have fallen to 11th in the East and carry a 6-9-1 record at home. Then the Wild finish up the trip the a matchup in Winnipeg, a team who just loves to give the Wild two points every night.
  • The first line of Coyle-Koivu-Parise was absolutely buzzing in the third period. The line connected on a goal and just flat out looked like a top line should. This is the point where we no longer split up the line, right Mr. Yeo?
  • The toughest test for the Wild will come right off the bat tomorrow night when they play Pittsburgh, at Consol Energy Center. The Pens have stepped up and have become the best team in the East, winning nine of their past ten games. Even without the likes of Malkin, Letang, Orpik, etc. this is still a very tough team to play against. They do have the best hockey player in the world and all, so that definitely counts for something.
  • For an instructional on how to not play defense, see Ryan Suter's performance last night. It was reminiscent of his play in the first 10 games last year. Just out of position far too many times. Luckily, he does have the ability to turn it around and play like a Norris Trophy winning defenseman.
  • With the impending return of Mikael Granlund before this trip ends, it would appear that either Erik Haula or Justin Fontaine will get sent back to the AHL team. Both are playing well and do not deserve to be sent down, but one will due to the coach's commitment to giving a certain "All-Star" ice time. 

Since it is the holiday season, here is a little Christmas cheer in photo form, from October 2009 when the Wild and Pens met in Pittsburgh. 

Crosby beating the crap out of Zidlicky. Your welcome. Photo: Keith Srakocic/AP

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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