Since snapping their six-game losing streak against the horrible Buffalo Sabres, the Wild have won five of their last seven games, including that game against the Sabres. Everything is perfect and the Wild are kicking butts and chewing bubble gum. Kinda.
In reality, this is a dead cat bouncing. With this roster at least. Until the Wild get both Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu back, this cat will remain dead. Once the two stars are healthy and back in the lineup, well, it's a whole new cat.
"Enough with the cats!". Sure. Meow.
But really, this team is in a spot right now, where it simply needs to hang on, play desperate and ugly hockey and collect as many points as possible before the Olympic break. Easier said than done, since they're also missing Josh Harding (cat-like reflexes. CAT-LIKE.), who can win games on his own.
Like in last week's post where I pointed out that Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle need to step up their production, this time the spotlight hits Mike Yeo.
This is not an easy task for any coach. You need to shift your style to a bit more "hard work and grind out the W's" -hockey, while still not completely abandoning the things that made you successful earlier in the season. If Yeo pulls this off with any kind of success (staying in the play-off picture, that is), I tip my hat to the guy.
The Wild's season is about to either fall apart or stay very, very exciting. Getting Harding back as soon as possible would help, but if he's not playing in the next, let's say two to four games, the Wild need to REALLY shut the opposition down. Execute the simple plays, and make sure defense is your first and second priority. After Harding comes back, they get a little more breathing room. Darcy Kuemper and Niklas Backstrom have done a good job, but Harding has been playing out of his mind this season.
So, about that dead cat that's bouncing around all over the place?
The Wild have been grinding out wins over this seven-game stretch. Buffalo was pretty much as easy as you'd expect, but then there are the ones that the Wild really stole.
Phoenix controlled the first 2 periods, battled evenly in the third but the Wild won. Washington at times toyed with the Wild, dominated the SOG department (won by 19), but the Wild scored FIVE TIMES WITH ELEVEN SHOTS. JESUS. The Kings won shots on goal by 23, and so on. The only really good game if I remember correctly, was the home win against Colorado.
There's a pattern here, but I'm pretty sure the Wild are not capable of changing that pattern right now. And they probably shouldn't. Keep grinding out some ugly wins, wait for Koivu and Parise to come back and then reboot the whole system.
And quite frankly, this is mostly on Yeo. If he can keep the ship sailing without Parise and Koivu, I just might be willing to give him a chance to coach next year as well.