The best Wild team ever is a legitimate threat in the postseason.
Hey Wild fans!! The end of the regular-season is right around the corner, with just three games left. First, against the Arizona Coyotes (should be a gimme), followed by Calgary and the season finale against the division-leading Avalanche. The good news, all three remaining games are at home. The Wild are battling with the St. Louis Blues for the home-ice advantage during their first-round matchup. We are tied with the Blues currently in terms of points (109 each), but the Wild have one more game to play. It would be nice if we could win-out and get that home ice in the first round.
Attending the first game in which Minnesota hosted the Seattle Kraken last Friday night, I couldn’t decide if the Wild were just toying with them by giving the Krak a two-goal lead before scoring six-straight on their way to a 6-3 victory? Five goals in the second period by the Wild boys. Joel Eriksson Ek had two goals, Kevin Fiala became the first Wild player to tally 5 assists in a game, Kirill Kaprizov had a goal and three assists on his way to reach 100 points in a season – the first Wild player to do so and Matt Boldy set a Wild rookie record with an 8-game point streak. The Wild set a team record for wins in a season at 50 W’s.
There is no question that this is the best team in Minnesota Wild history. They are currently in second place in the division with a 51-21-7 record (109 points). The Wild are on a five-game win streak and are 8-0-2 in the past ten games. They are one of five teams in the NHL, and one of three in the Central Division that has scored 300 goals to this point in the season. Since the trade deadline on March 21, the Wild are 15-1-3. In other words, the Wild have gotten season points in 18 out of the last 19 games. That’s pretty good, if you ask me.
During that same time, the Wild goaltenders have been rock solid in net. Marc-Andre Fleury is 8-1 and Cam Talbot is 8-0-3. Kirill Kaprizov now has 103 points on the season and all of the doubters who said he wasn’t worth $9M per year when he signed his extension before the start of the season are all pretty quiet right about now.
Kevin Fiala has been on fire lately and it would be awesome to resign him to an extension after the season, however that will be tough considering the Wild will double their dead cap money from releasing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter last off season. I would run out and get a Wild tattoo if they could re-sign Fiala and Fleury, but to do that, they would almost certainly have to trade someone like Matt Dumba for salary cap relief, which is a possibility, but personally, I don’t see that happening.
I guess we will have to wait and see what happens in the off season, not that I’m in a rush to get there. We have the playoffs first!!! The Blues will be a tough matchup for sure, but they all are in the playoffs. I’m thinking this series will at least go six games, if not the full seven. Who really knows though, we could sweep them in four.
It probably goes without saying, but regardless of what happens in the playoffs, this has been the most entertaining season in Wild history. Their offense is one of the best in the league. The defense has been down-right stingy and the goaltending, well, when you have a three-time Stanley Cup champion and 500+ game winner as a #1 tendy and a legit starter for a second option, you’re sitting pretty good. No matter what facet of the game I’m talking about, we have tremendous depth.
What might get us in trouble however, is our special teams. It is probably is only part of our team that causes Wild Head Coach Dean Evason to shotgun bottles of pink antacid after games.
Our power-play is a mediocre 15th in the league at 20.8%. Wait, it gets worse. Our power-kill is… 27th in the league at just 75.4%. As I’ve said before, we need to do a better job in both of those areas, obviously, to carry us deep into the post-season. Conversely, if we do improve our special teams while keeping all other areas as awesome as they currently are, we may just see Lord Stanley’s Cup at the X this summer.
In the meantime, watch the Wild take on the last-place Arizona Coyotes tonight beginning at 7pm at the XCel Energy Center. Tune into ESPN+ to check it out. End of the season and playoff coverage coming soon. Go Wild!!!!!!!