This past week was not exactly a good one for the Wild. Sure, they went 2-1-0, and they beat the mighty Red Wings. However, the trends that have haunted them all season continued. Petitioning the league to have the second period removed from games is not going to work, and allowing themselves to be outshot night in and night out is going to get ugly.
Still, there are individuals making it clear that even if the rest of the team is going to give up, they are not. Consummate professionals, these players know there is pride involved in every second of every game, and they will not sacrifice that pride without a fight.
Who do we have as the buys, the sells, and the holds? Who do you have? Make the jump and let's discuss.
John Madden (BOOM) - Madden has not had an off night yet this season. He is averaging 16:38 TOI /G, with an average of just over three minutes of that coming short handed. He is winning 54.5% of his faceoffs, including being better than 50% both at home and on the road. He has taken at least part of the PK load off of Mikko Koivu, and that is exactly what he was brought in to do.
Rating: Strong Buy
Nick Schultz (MO) - Quietly leading the team (yes, leading) in blocked shots, Schultz continues to play the game he can play. Finally allowed to be the defensive defenseman he is, Schultz has been superb playing along side Brent Burns. Third on the team for TOI /G, Schultz is undoubtedly one of the leaders of this team. If every player on the team followed the example of his work ethic and drive, the Wild would not be anywhere near where they are now. The only thing holding Schultz back is his struggles with the "puck moving" aspect of the game. I am willing to accept that if he continues to play how he is now.
Andrew Brunette (BRNO) - Brunette has not scored a goal since November 2nd, despite having 3:15 PP TOI / G, and despite his never quit attitude. The struggles of the top line are representative of the struggles of the team, and Brunette has to be a part of changing the fate of this team. He is a leader and has been a leader since he first put on a Wild sweater. If he and his linemates continue to falter, this team is in real trouble. No pressure, Bruno, but the pressure is on.
Patrick O`Sullivan (POS) - The Prodigal Son returns. If he is a boon or a bust will take a few games to determine, but in the investing world he is what is known as a "penny stock." The buy in here is extremely low, the risk is negligible, and there is only upside. Feel comfortable buying in with him, just don't stake your hopes and dreams on him.
Marco Scandella (PZZA) - Wild fans need to feel good about the future of the blueline in this franchise. With Pizza and Justin Falk coming up, visions of a new Burns / Schultz pairing have to be dancing in your heads. While both players are currently down, they will both be back, and in a big way. The buy in on both of these guys is very low, and the sky is the limit on the upside. Buy now.
Rating: Strong Buy
Todd Richards (SUIT) - I'm a staunch Richards defender, and my past opinion writing shows that. However, "I don't know" just is not an acceptable answer from a coach at the quarter pole mark of the season. The team has shown improvement over last year, but they have shown zero improvement since the beginning of this year. Richards cannot sit by and watch and the team folds it up for long stretches of time. "I don't know" needs to become "Problem solved," and fast.