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Should the Minnesota Wild be worried?

Dec 23, 2011, 12:34 AM EDT

Wild Oilers Hockey AP

To the awe of many critics, the Minnesota Wild managed a tight-rope act to the top spot in the Northwest Division through the first quarter of the season. They still remain a point ahead of the surging Vancouver Canucks, but with their sixth loss in a row, is time to get worried yet?

The scrappy team wasn’t exactly blowing opponents out when they were winning, but their offense has fallen apart without Mikko Koivu in the lineup. Their underrated captain was placed on the IR today, which is horrible news.

Minnesota has only managed seven goals in their last six games while going 0-4-2, including a 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers tonight. (Dany Heatley scored what was essentially a garbage goal in the third period.)

Looking at the simplest numbers, it doesn’t seem like the problem is a lack of effort. They’ve managed at least 30 shots in all but one game (they fired 27 on the Winnipeg Jets in a 2-1 defeat that began this ugly streak). Most hockey people expected the Wild to struggle without Koivu – especially considering the team’s litany of other injuries – but it seems obvious that they have trouble winning small margin of error games without him.

My guess is that the Wild’s chances of winning their division are very slim. The Canucks are just one point behind them with two games in hand and a boatload of momentum. A playoff berth is certainly still a reasonable goal for Minnesota, though.

That being said, they’ll need to find some scoring if they want to do any damage once/if they get there.

  1. gbiscottagecheesefatties - Dec 23, 2011 at 12:59 AM

    not about the season but about these injuries… this is getting depressing… we need our top guys back but it’s not looking great… Koivu should be back after xmas and Seto is out with an undisclosed knee injury (I assume ACL sprain) … and who knows if we ever see Latendresse again in a Wild sweater.. UGH!!!!

    “If” we make the playoffs and are healthy then, that’s all that matters

    • gbiscottagecheesefatties - Dec 23, 2011 at 1:00 AM

      also….

      this should tell everyone how important Koivu really is to this team and how great of a defender he is in the slot. How many goals have we let in to top lines since he hasn’t been in the lineup. He is worth every penny. There is more to this game than just goals folks, hope it is clear enough to see now. Koivu, hurry back!!!

  2. canucks18 - Dec 23, 2011 at 1:36 AM

    It’s good to see these guys playing well (before the last 6) cause this is a hard working very underrated team. Hope they make the playoffs!!! Good luck

  3. greatminnesotasportsmind - Dec 23, 2011 at 2:20 AM

    Koivu is the glue, the Wild slumped in March last year when he was out.

    • polegojim - Dec 23, 2011 at 9:50 AM

      Appears to be true…and that’s the problem. The Wild’s ‘Achilles Heal’ is lack of depth.

      If a team tanks this hard with one or two guys out, coaching is also an issue. Preparation for injury is part of their job.

      Somebody should be stepping up and they’re not.

      • ThatGuy - Dec 23, 2011 at 11:25 AM

        There really isn’t much to prepare for in case of a Koivu Injury. At the moment, there is literally no one in the NHL or AHL to pick up the slack of what he does on the top line. Next year, and future years when Granlund, Larrson, Phillips, Zucker and Coyle are on the team or in the AHL it shouldn’t be as big of a problem because they project as top 6 players. But there is not one AHL player or player outside our original top 6 that plays that style of game.

        It leaves the Wild running a 2nd line as a first line, a third line as a 2nd line and two AHL lines masquarading as 3rd and 4th NHL lines. It just doesn’t work.

      • polegojim - Dec 23, 2011 at 7:43 PM

        You totally missed the point.

        Yes, you DO prepare to fill the line…even if it’s not of equal talent.

        Detroit was still winning without Datsyuk…not as much… but they didn’t tank.

        That’s the point.

  4. rainyday56 - Dec 23, 2011 at 2:36 AM

    Teams that are supposed to beat them are starting to beat them now. Nature is taking it’s course.

    • davebabychreturns - Dec 23, 2011 at 11:59 AM

      Careful. A couple of weeks ago I posted a comment summarizing just how unlikely it was that the Wild had the record they did and I got raked over the coals for it.

      Whether it’s true or not that the Wild have been due for a correction, people just don’t seem to want to hear it.

      Still, obviously Koivu is a big loss and they have been missing several other contributors for awhile. As much as their early season record was unsustainable, the amount of losing they’ve done in the last couple of weeks is unsustainable as well. At the end of this year if they can get and remain healthy this team should be a lock for a playoff spot.

      • theyarecalledbreezers - Dec 23, 2011 at 9:18 PM

        Prepare for more raking.
        So… you “summarized” that a team, which was expected to finish in the bottom half of the league, wasn’t going to be able to stay on top of the NHL?? Way to go genius. TSN should hire you as an analyst for your gutsy predictions and groundbreaking insight. Way to take a chance on that one. What people don’t want to hear is the same boring statements about why teams will ultimately fail. 29 of 30 teams “fail” every year. To make your predictable “told you so” statements, is not only lazy, but simply uninteresting. You’re taking the side of the argument that is correct 97% of the time. Who cares if a team does what you think they will? What’s interesting about sports is when teams break the law of averages. Giving an analysis on why a statistical “blip” actually is happening, rather than why it will stop, is impressive, compelling and shows knowledge of the game beyond the stat sheet. Do that, and people might care about your opinion.

  5. elguapo12 - Dec 23, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    Heatley eventually mangles every team he’s on…no exceptions.

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