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The NHL’s top team is now … the Minnesota Wild?

Nov 20, 2011, 1:26 AM EDT

Mikko Koivu AP

I have a quick, informal poll for you. What’s more surprising: the fact that the Edmonton Oilers just beat the Chicago Blackhawks by a ridiculous score of 9-2 or that the Minnesota Wild are now slightly ahead* of the Blackhawks for the best record in the NHL?

Oilers burn Chicago

No doubt about it, both situations are stunning. Ray Emery was pulled from the game against the Oilers only to find himself back in after Corey Crawford also got shelled by Edmonton. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins compiled a ludicrous five assists while Taylor Hall avenged a questionable hit by Duncan Keith (stay tuned for video of that check from behind) by notching a hat trick. Overall, the Blackhawks were outscored 14-4 in their trip through Western Canada, with their other loss coming to the struggling Calgary Flames.

Minnesota’s stealth surge

Again, that’s bewildering stuff. But few would have predicted that the Wild would find themselves in first place overall more than a month into the season. Minnesota, which defeated St. Louis in a shootout, earned wins in nine of their last 11 games as Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding have been trading off victories.

They’re doing it with that aforementioned goaltending, timely scoring (they’ve only scored five goals once and four goals in one other game during that 11-game stretch) and an outstanding penalty kill that stopped 39 of 43 chances.

Yeo deserves praise

Quite a few coaches have received praise for greatly exceeding expectations in 2011-12 already, so let’s give rookie bench boss Mike Yeo some credit. He’s making it work so far in his first season with the big club, even if those efforts are going largely unnoticed by the mainstream. If Minnesota keeps it up, it won’t be easy for the Wild to slip under the radar much longer.

Forgive the Blackhawks if they feel a little more worried about themselves instead, though.

* Both teams have 27 points but Minnesota is 12-5-3 while Chicago is 12-6-3, so they get the “tie-breaker” at the moment.

  1. greatminnesotasportsmind - Nov 20, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    Even more amazing, they have done this without their top line producing like they should be.

    Injuries to:
    Mike Lundin, missed whole season
    Greg Zanon, missed 12 games
    Guillaume Latendresse, 4 games

    and other injuries.

    Mike Yeo is a great coach, great hire by Fletcher

    • gbiscottagecheesefatties - Nov 20, 2011 at 1:47 PM

      I am really excited to have our line up at center next year look like this next year :)
      Koivu
      Granlund
      Cullen
      Brodziak

      • gbiscottagecheesefatties - Nov 20, 2011 at 2:18 PM

        said next year a few too many times… my bad.

        If the Wild win the NW, Yeo will be coach of the year!

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - Nov 20, 2011 at 10:04 PM

        Your missing a very key player who is NOT on the Wild roster yet.

        Parise
        Koivu
        Granlund
        Cullen
        Brodziak, PK

  2. grbull - Nov 20, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    Are you sure you want zanon back in the lineup with the way our defense is currently playing? His mentality has always been block the shot instead of our young crew who tries to stop the shot from being taken….I’ll take the latter to avoid the inevitable redirect goal off his shinpads

    • gbiscottagecheesefatties - Nov 20, 2011 at 1:42 PM

      I have nothing against how Zanon plays but I would rather have a more “skilled” D man if given the option. Zanon will get a raise this off-season and it won’t be from the Wild.

  3. comeonnowguys - Nov 20, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    You realize Vancouver’s in western Canada, right?

    Weren’t you talking about the Wild’s freefall not too long ago? I mean after the Wings? and Dallas? This site changes gears so fast, it makes your head spin. Let’s let things develop for a few weeks before we start anointing the best team in the league.

    • gbiscottagecheesefatties - Nov 20, 2011 at 2:41 PM

      the point is, they are the best team in the league, right now…. things do change, from year to year, week to week… but when was this article made…. my point.

      • comeonnowguys - Nov 20, 2011 at 11:04 PM

        My point isn’t any less valid, and I wasn’t trying to discredit the Wild, but when you look at the site over the past few weeks, it’s been.

        “Team X is AWESOME!”

        (A couple of losses later)

        “Is Team X falling apart?”

        It just gets silly after a while. There’s a long way to go.

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