Skip to content

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Ducks’ Rakell makes franchise history with overtime winner

    Apr 21, 2015, 1:52 AM EDT

    Getty Images

    The Jets, and Winnipeg, feel the crush of defeat.

  2. Video: Wild chase the Blues away to take series lead

    Apr 20, 2015, 10:54 PM EDT

    St Louis Blues v Minnesota Wild - Game Three Getty Images

    Devan Dubnyk produces his first playoff shutout.

  3. Suspension-worthy? Perry hit by Byfuglien after scoring a goal

    Apr 20, 2015, 10:37 PM EDT

    byfuglienfrombehind

    It drew a two-minute roughing penalty.

  4. Video: Rakell, Scheifele collide knee-on-knee

    Apr 20, 2015, 10:29 PM EDT

    No call on the first collision.

  5. WATCH LIVE: Tonight’s Stanley Cup Playoff action

    Apr 20, 2015, 9:48 PM EDT

    Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers - Game Two Getty Images

    Will shifting locales produce interesting results?

  6. Too little, too late: Rangers stifle Penguins for 2-1 series lead

    Apr 20, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT

    Sidney Crosby, Keith Yandle AP

    A close-to-perfect road effort from New York.

  7. Devils’ Henrique undergoes wrist surgery, expects 4-6 week recovery

    Apr 20, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    Montreal Canadiens v New Jersey Devils Getty Images

    New Jersey’s only player who went under the knife this offseason.

Featured video

Sens need to control emotions after Subban slash
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. K. Letang (2965)
  2. M. Pacioretty (2863)
  3. M. Stone (2712)
  4. M. Fisher (2674)
  5. J. Abdelkader (2552)
  1. Z. Kassian (2517)
  2. M. Perreault (2184)
  3. S. Crosby (2124)
  4. C. Ehrhoff (1976)
  5. R. Nash (1933)