In order to be able to watch the Wild's next game I need to re-align my expectations about this team. It's obvious to me that this team is more alike to past Wild teams than different. To type that statement makes me extremely frustrated considering we are firmly in the Parise/Suter era.
Today I see a team that is artificially propped up by Josh "Vezina" Harding and an above average defense.
29th in Goals scored per game
26th in Shots per game
3rd in Shots Against per game
1st in Goals Against Average (Josh Harding)
2nd in Save Percentage (Josh Harding)
14th in 5v5 Close FF%
The questions floating around in my head right now:
Where would our expectations of this team be if it wasn't for the great possession numbers in October?
I believe many of us are still clinging on to the October Wild team. By the end of October, the Wild was looking at a 58.4% 5v5 Close FF%. Currently the Wild is at 50.7% which is still better than our historical numbers but nowhere where this team needs to be considering three central division teams are ahead of them in this statistic.
Beginning with our game on Nov. 1, the Wild have had 15 games of less than 50% FF% and 7 games of greater than 50% FF%. The highest FF% was against the Maple Leafs (77.8%) and the lowest against the Blues (23.5%).
Where would this team be without the outstanding play of Josh Harding?
Look at the quick hit stats above. Josh Harding is playing out of this mind right now. To me this is the scariest question to answer but one that must be considered in order to re-align expectations of this team.
What is wrong with this team?
Is it a curse, the players, the coaches, the fans? On paper this team has more top-to-bottom talent than any other Wild team in its short history but on the ice it's the same story. Putrid offense, low possession, above-average defense and outstanding goaltending. In October I could look my dad and brother in the face and tell them while the Wild weren't winning as many games as they should they at least had good offensive-zone time and the wins would start coming. Well...
I can't decide what the problem is. All I know is this isn't a playoff-caliber team. This is not a team that is currently built to contend in the Western Conference. To me this is a team that is more alike than different than past teams.