When I last left you, the Minnesota Wild had just won a big game against Chicago, and were about to embark on the latter part of a three game stretch by facing San Jose and Anaheim on the road. Those three teams were (and still are) Top-5 in the standings in points, and winning any of those games was going to be huge for the Wild.
While they blew a 2-goal lead in San Jose to come out of that game with one point instead of two, these last three games have been an unabashed success for the Minnesota Wild. Without Mikko Koivu and Jared Spurgeon, the Wild have managed to take 5 out of 6 points against three of the best teams in hockey, making certain Wild bloggers look very foolish for writing a certain article a month ago.
However, this is a win that is truly impressive. In most wins over the last month, the Wild have just managed to get by, winning games in which the other team largely dominated them. Not this one. The Wild took it to the best team in hockey, going toe-to-toe with them in terms of puck possession. For stretches, they even looked dominant.
Mikael Granlund didn't earn a star like Jason Pominville and Zach Parise did, but he played excellently, even declining to defer to veterans in lieu of shooting, and was rewarded with his fourth goal of the year. Darcy Kuemper also deserves credit, as he managed to hold on when the Ducks started surging in the third period.
All in all, this was a great win, in a great stretch for the Wild. Now, they need to focus and avoid the classic trap game against Calgary, who beat the Blackhawks tonight. That game will be in
Calgary Colorado, and will be played Thursday night.
Now, on to the Walk.
Wild notes: Kuemper comes up big in eighth start in a row | Star Tribune- He certainly has. Kuemper has saved the Wild this season.
Minnesota Wild: Koivu, Spurgeon returns will shake up lineup - TwinCities.com- And for the better. Koivu returning gives the Wild two bona-fide scoring lines in his pairing with Parise, and the Graninoville line. Spurgeon keeps Nate Prosser (though Prosser has been solid) and Keith Ballard playing bottom pairing minutes like they should be.
Minnesota Wild: Trade deadline not a big deal this season - TwinCities.com- Cap limitations, unwillingness to part with youth again should make this trade deadline much quieter for the Wild this season.
Minnesota Wild: For second straight game, Rupp plays, Zucker sits - TwinCities.com- This looked like a dumb decision when Mike Rupp foolishly committed a double-minor that allowed the Ducks to get back in the game after being down 4-1.
Minnesota Wild Analysis: Better To Be Lucky Than Good? - Gone Puck Wild- Yes, the Wild have been fueled by unsustainable goaltending that's masked their recent inability to maintain possession. However, with Koivu and Spurgeon coming back and Parise healthy for the first time since November, I'm definitely thinking we're going to see a team closer to the first two months than the one we've seen the last two. When Parise first got injured, the Wild were at about a 54% FF Close Rate. My bet (and, I'll admit, hope) is that the Wild will be much closer to that rate than what we've been seeing as of late.
Tending the Fields
Off the Trail
30 Thoughts: NHL GMs deal with double trade deadline | Hockey | CBC Sports- There will be a trade freeze during the Olympic Games that GMs will have to maneuver around.
Report: Rangers float Callahan’s name in trade talks | ProHockeyTalk- I really like Ryan Callahan, but he's asking for a 6 million per 7 year deal. That's quite a bit.
Playing Martin Brodeur for nostalgia’s sake will cost the Devils | Backhand Shelf | Blogs | theScore.com- And seeing as New Jersey is outside the playoff bubble, they can't afford to let sentimentality trump their chances of winning.
Martin Brodeur still pondering trade from Devils this season | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- This would be a solution to the former quandary, but I'm wondering if it's worth it for Brodeur, who has three Cups, to leave New Jersey to chase a fourth. Being a player that sticks with one team his whole career has a cool ring to it.
Finally, a celebration of California hockey | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- The outdoor game in California seemed to go over smoothly.
California Love- Grantland- Down Goes Brown agrees.
Wingels: Brown declined fight, ‘doesn’t want to own up’ to Hertl hit | ProHockeyTalk- In other shocking news, it was cold when I went outside to take my doge out.
NHL - The best player at every age - ESPN- A couple of Wild players are declared the best player of their age.
SI.com NHL fan misery rankings team 8 Columbus Blue Jackets | Home Ice - SI.com- There's gotta be a looooot of misery in hockey if Columbus is only ranked 8th. Is it because they haven't existed very long?