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Who are these guys helping the Minnesota Wild win?

Nov 16, 2011, 12:34 PM EDT

Minnesota Wild v Anaheim Ducks Getty Images

Did you take a look at the standings today? If not, take a look at the Northwest Division and let us know what you think. Yup, the Minnesota Wild are in first and if you can figure out how they’re doing it, we’ll try to spell it out.

Goaltending is the main thing making it happen for the Wild. Both Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding have been lights out this season. Backstrom’s been the “worst” of the two and that’s because he’s barely allowing more than two goals a game and stopping just 93% of the shots he’s facing. Harding has been incredible with his numbers in the goaltending stratosphere.

Offensively the Wild are average. Matt Cullen has been on a tear of late and leads the team in goals with eight. Dany Heatley is helping out all-around while Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Mikko Koivu are taking the playmaking thing literally as both guys have nine assists and just one goal. Devin Setoguchi and Kyle Brodziak are also doing their part chipping in goals as well. Nothing mind blowing, just enough.

If you thought there weren’t enough marquee names there, just check out the defense. Clayton Stoner, Justin Falk, Jared Spurgeon, Nick Schultz, Nate Prosser? The one name is Marek Zidlicky and he’s known more for his offense than defense and he might be out of action for a bit with a concussion. If ever there was a team able to steal the “No Name Defense” nickname from the 1970s Miami Dolphins, this is it.

Who are these guys?

Somehow it’s all working right for coach Mike Yeo. Sure, things may not stay this way all season for Minnesota, but for now the wins are coming and they’re enjoying the ride. If Yeo can get them to the playoffs though, he’ll become a hero in the Twin Cities.

  1. treydogg97 - Nov 16, 2011 at 12:44 PM

    As far as the back end, Falk, Spurgeon and Prosser all played in Mike Yeo’s system in Houston and it seems they have a leg up because of that. We haven’t seen most of the offensive talent yet but that will come in the next few years.

  2. sknut - Nov 16, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    To me what is encouraging is that the Koivu-Heatley-Set line hasn’t been at its best and they are still winning. I expect them to come around and to help balance things out. This team has more depth now than they have had in a long time, and its being tested as they have lost 4 D-Men now (Zanon, Lundin, Scandella and now perhaps Zidlicky)

  3. whatswellydoing - Nov 16, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    It won’t last, the goaltending will come back down to Earth. I think they’re better than the rest of the NWest, save Vancouver, but I can’t see them doing much of anything with that cast.

    • jrmehle - Nov 17, 2011 at 11:12 PM

      Need I remind you that the Wild made an unexpected playoff run in 2003. They had good coaching, a group of players that “bought in,” and two hot goaltenders. I’ve been saying it since before the season began; this year feels special.

      What stands out so far about the team is they’re finding ways to win games and they’re doing it with injuries to the lineup. Every game it’s a different player stepping up. Surely, they’ll have some rough patches, especially as other teams start to see them as more of a threat, but the wins they’re piling up now are going to help ease the pressure down the stretch.

      Speaking of the stretch, the team has 8M in cap room to play with come the trade deadline. They could easily add a couple of solid players at the trade deadline and not break the bank.

  4. illogic87 - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:28 AM

    I love hearing about the Wild! great story

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