The Wild head to Vancouver a broken team. Any chance they survive?
UPDATE: Darcy Kuemper will make his NHL debut in net, as Josh Harding is "just a bit off," according to GM Chuck Fletcher. The quotes from Fletcher certainly make it sound like an MS issue, though he did not directly say that. Quotes like "this is not something we were unprepared for," and "we really support him and I give him credit for being honest with us" make it pretty clear this is not a simply flu bug.
The Wild Twitter account says there will be video. We will share that when we have it.
Ah, lucky 13.
The Minnesota Wild head into Vancouver "winners" of two straight games, and riding what must be a very awkward high. It is difficult to criticize winning, and yet the way the Wild won the last two games was neither impressive nor motivational. Two straight OTs and games that were less than fun to watch. Both wins count the same as any other, but the feeling in the locker room cannot possibly be one of pride right now.
Against the Nashville Predators, the Wild were lucky to come out on top, but at least that one had the feeling that the Wild had accomplished something. There was momentum behind them, a fire they had not had in weeks. The team then went into Calgary and played what has to be one of the most mentally exhausting games ever played in the NHL. No life, no emotion, momentum gone.
Of course, the talking heads are focuses on the fact it was a win. And good for them. Focus on the positive while ignoring the fact that the Wild have scored only one goal in regulation for five straight games. It doesn't take fancy stats to know that a team scoring one goal a game isn't going to win very many of those contests.
The top defensive pairing of Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin continue to improve, and Suter is actually starting to resemble the player he can be. The top line is flying, and getting plenty of chances, as Charlie Coyle continues to out play the majority of the vets on the team.
Beyond that? Meh.
Sure, the secondary scoring is doing what it is supposed to do. The primary scoring has disappeared completely, so secondary scoring doesn't really matter much. Goaltending has been solid, but that pesky Niklas Backstrom just keep giving up more than one goal a game, something signaling he should clearly be traded.
Truly, watching this team right now, the only team identity they have is that they like to skate around, do as little as possible, and hope the other team shoots itself in the foot.
That won't work tonight against the Canucks. In face, there is little to no chance the Wild win this game tonight. Roberto Luongo owns the Wild outside the X, and the Wild have showed zero reason to think they can break Lu's shutout streak against them. The Canucks are playing solid hockey, scoring goals, playing D, supporting great goaltending.
The team will be saying all the right things, but the truth of the matter is, barring some kind of miracle turnaround for the Wild, the 4-1 score from Thursday would be a moral victory.
At least it isn't likely to be whatever the hell that was last night.