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It’s probably time to start taking the Wild seriously

Dec 9, 2011, 7:57 AM EDT

Minnesota Wild v Los Angeles Kings Getty Images

It’s been long enough now. It’s time to start taking the Minnesota Wild seriously.

The Wild won their sixth straight road game last night in Los Angeles, taking out the Kings 4-2. Rookie Matt Hackett made his first NHL start, coming off a relief appearance in San Jose that saw him shut down the Sharks to win 2-1, and continued to stymie their opponents. Their games are never high scoring but they’re often played a breakneck pace and, most importantly, the Wild just keep winning.

Wild beat man Michael Russo hears it from coach Mike Yeo after their win over L.A. and Yeo says things are just different now with the Wild.

“It is a different place and time for us. I think we’ve come a long way in terms of how we prepare ourselves, how we see ourselves and what we expect from ourselves.

“The players right from that day have been unbelievable.”

Funny what a little confidence can do, isn’t it?

The team is preparing differently, they’re holding themselves and each other accountable for what happens on the ice, and they’re getting the kind of goaltending that will make up for lapses anywhere. For the Wild, they don’t care how the wins come – they just care that they keep happening.

If the Wild keep this up, we’ll have to start labeling them the NHL’s honey badgers. They just don’t care what you think of them, they’re just going to keep doing it their way.

  1. davebabychreturns - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    Statistically, it’s a little bewildering how the Wild have managed this..

    Their powerplay is abysmal and their penalty kill is outside the top ten.

    Their even strength goals for/against ratio is good (9th overall) but not great, and if you put any stock into CORSI ratings not a single Wild player has a positive rating at even strength and their individual PDO ratings (on ice shooting percentage plus save percentage – an indicator of luck) are unusually high.

    Those sorts of figures – although it’s early and the sample sizes are not great – usually indicate that a team is overperforming. Obviously I don’t know if that’s the case with the Wild – maybe they will get Vezina-calibre goaltending all year and keep winning despite mediocre special teams and getting outshot every night.

    But I’m not betting on it.

    • spiciercheez - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:15 AM

      Only stat that matters is the number in the W column…..

      • davebabychreturns - Dec 9, 2011 at 1:18 PM

        At the end of the year that’s exactly right. But if you’re talking about predicting future performance (which is what I was getting at) that’s not necessarily the case; a guy with a shooting percentage of 30% might lead the league in goals after the first week but it’d be crazy to bet he’ll win the Richard trophy by keeping that pace up.

        Anyway if you look at last season the teams that met in the finals were #1 and #2 overall in even strength goals for/against ratio in the regular season.. and the #1 team won that series. I don’t think what I’m saying is all that controversial, frankly.

        But yes – it’s got to be sweet for Wild fans at this stage of the season, especially since until this season the post-Lemaire area looked pretty bleak. I don’t particularly like the team but it’s easy to sympathize with a fanbase that got the short end of the stick.

  2. bulldozer20 - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    Choke on that baaaaybaaaay.

  3. ole1474 - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    Stat this stat that, all I know is the Wild have the most wins and points in the NHL. I am going to enjoy this as long as I can!

  4. hodog16 - Dec 9, 2011 at 1:02 PM

    It’s not Baby in the username, it’s Babych as in Dave Babych the former Canucks defenseman.

    Wins matter the most but can be short lived. Ask the capitals how that blistering start is treating them. If the Wild continue the trend good for them, don’t see them coming out of the west regardless.

  5. govtminion - Dec 9, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    They’re like the NHL version of the Denver Broncos- no one can figure out why they keep winning, but why question it? If it’s working, roll with it.

  6. rarebarbarians - Dec 9, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    Stats don’t mean nothing if they did Vancouver, San Jose and Washington would’ve won Stanley Cups and they didn’t, they all won the last three President’s trophy. Also if you score the most goals doesn’t automatically win you the Stanley Cup. It’s a long season and it looks good for the Wild to make the playoffs, then anything can happen in the playoffs, just ask Montreal with Halak.

  7. bcisleman - Dec 9, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    Contrary to popular opinion, Garth Snow doesn’t make many mistakes. One mistake he did make IMHO was not to sign Jared Spurgeon. Glad Jared’s doing well, just wish it were in a blue and orange sweater.

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