Saturday, March 1, 2014

February Wrapup

It was a Olympic shortened month for the Wild which only saw them play five games. Even though there werent that many games, we still will take a look back at the month of February.

Team Record: 4-0-1 in February, 33-21-7 overall
Standings: 4th in Central Division, 6th in Western Conference

3 Stars 

Bronze Medal: Nino Niederreiter (5 GP, 2 G, 2 A)
In addition to being a top player on the Swiss Olympic squad this month, Niederreiter translated that into the five games during the NHL schedule this month as he stepped up making some big plays. The best of those plays came against Nashville, in overtime, as he scored the game winning goal on a nice play against his fellow Swiss teammate, Roman Josi. 

Silver Medal: Dany Heatley (5 GP, 3 G, 2A)
Surprised to see Dany Heatley, the fans favorite scapegoat, on this list? Yeah, same here. But in the shortened month, Heatley tallied a point in four of five games, including three goals to lead the team. If Heatley can continue to score remotely close to this pace, he will be a very valuable asset to the Wild as they try and notch a second consecutive playoff berth.

Gold Medal: Darcy Kuemper (5 GS, 4-0-1, 1.55 GAA, .942 save percentage)
For the second consecutive month, Darcy Kuemper is bringing home the top star (or in the spirit of the Olympics, gold medal) honor. He has been without a doubt the Wild's unsung hero since the calendar went from 2013 to 2014. In February, Kuemper was simply unbeatable as he held the opposition to one goal or less in three out of the five games this month. There is a lot of talk about the Wild possibly acquiring a goaltender before the trade deadline next week, but Kuemper is making it a difficult decision for GM Chuck Fletcher with his outstanding play.

Top 5 Plays

5. Matt Cooke goal vs Flames (snipes the corner on a slap shot)

4. Dany Heatley goal vs Lightning (set up by the effort of Jared Spurgeon)

3. Darcy Kuemper save vs Flames (robs TJ Brodie)

2. Darcy Kuemper save vs Canucks (again with the robbery)

1. Nino Niederreiter goal vs Predators (dangle, snipe, and celly)

Best Game:
February 27th vs Edmonton
In the team's first game back following a three week break for the Olympics, the Wild found themselves in Edmonton looking to continue their hot pace that carried them into the break. They came out and dominated a lackluster Oilers club and instantly picked up right where they left off. They followed up the win in Edmonton with a 2-1 shootout victory in Vancouver to close out the month and solidify their wild card position in the West.

Wild Olympians:

Nino Niederreiter (SUI): 0 points in four games. Nino played top line minutes for Switzerland.

Mikael Granlund (FIN): Three goals, four assists in six games while playing on Finland's top line with Teemu Selanne. He was named to the Olympic All-Star team. Was the only Wild player to bring home a medal (bronze).

Ryan Suter (USA): Three assists in six games. Was the top defenseman for Team USA.

Zach Parise (USA): One goal in six games. Served as captain for Team USA in the tournament.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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