With the rest of the season looking like the equivalent of stabbing sewing needles into various parts of your body, the Wild embark on a mission. For some, that mission is to get to the elite levels of the draft. For others, such as Mike Yeo, the mission is to end the season with a positive message. What that message might be is escaping me, but I get it.
No one likes to lose, especially coaches. Especially first year coaches who weren't given a chance. No one here wants anything but the best for this team and for the coach. At the same time, if the players are giving up, it is difficult to blame them. Looking at the roster, you would think the guys up in the NHL, who likely shouldn't be, would be playing for their jobs.
Yeo mentioned that he had five or six guys who were playing like "it might be nice to win." If those guys are NHL level players, they need to be benched. If they are AHL level players, then send them back. The stance at Hockey Wilderness is clear... don't win, but don't look stupid losing.
How last week went depends completely on your thinking for the rest of the season. If you still think the Wild have a chance at the playoffs, it wasn't a good week. Heck, if all you want to do is see some well played hockey, last week wasn't the greatest. However, if you're on board with the Dive for Top Five, it was a decent week.
Losses against the Avalanche and the Flames kept the Wild within one point of a top five pick, but the win against the Coyotes came dangerously close to propelling the Wild into the mediocre pick range. This is likely how it will be for the remainder of the season. The Wild aren't very good, but the teams below them in the standings? Yeah, they aren't very good either.
There weren't many positives to build on for the Let's Win a Couple crowd, either. Harding is hurt, Clutterbuck is hurt, Koivu isn't coming back... rough four weeks ahead if your goal is to see wins.
The Week Ahead
Just two games this week, both in St. Paul. This will be welcomed by the players, if for no reason than they get to be home. Tuesday, the team takes on the Dallas Stars, a team with quite a bit to still play for. The Stars currently lead the Pacific Division, but Phoenix is hot on their tail. That lead position could mean the difference between a third seed and missing the playoffs.
The Stars are going to come in ready to win.
On Saturday, the Wild play a team ahead of them in the Dive for Top Five in the Hurricanes. The winner gets... nothing. The loser gets the chance at a higher pick. It should certainly be interesting to watch two teams play that have zero reason to continue playing.
Likely not. At all.