There were a lot of nice things to this game. Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville teamed up to dominate the competition. The kid line of Jason Zucker, Mikael Granlund, and Nino Niederreiter scored a goal. Backstrom remembered that he's an NHL-starting-calibre goaltender while playing in an emergency capacity. And the Wild did what they couldn't do last week: Close a game where they jumped on an inferior team.
But what this really means for the Wild is that the pressure that's been building for the past 6 games gets off, at least a little bit of it. Yeo gets another game to turn things around, and my guess is that he'll have to win that game to remain employed.
But here's the problem: It's Buffalo. And Buffalo sucks. They're the worst team in the league, by far. A win is a win, and two points is a hell of a lot better than it's been these last two weeks, but the Wild did what they were supposed to do, and little more.
Yeo will need to get his team making an impressive showing against tougher competition to quell talk about his job security. Fortunately, he gets that chance coming up. The Wild's next four games see them facing off against 4 playoff teams: Washington, @ Los Angeles, @ Phoenix, and Colorado. In my mind, the Wild gotta win three of those four games, and the latter two for a realistic playoff shot, at least from where things sit at this point.
But, relax a bit. The Wild got one. We have another day of not looking over our shoulders.
Wild notes: Harding sidelined, Konopka waived | Star Tribune- As for the other bit of news for the day, Darcy Kuemper is called up, and Zenon Konopka is down. Darcy Kuemper has had two terrible games in the NHL, but in the A? It's a different story. He actually leads the AHL in save percentage, with a .929. His NHL appearances had people pining for Matt Hackett, who was traded to Buffalo at last year's trade deadline, but Kuemper's leaps and bounds better this season.
Typical goalie drama before tonight's pivotal game; Zenon Konopka on waivers; Keith Ballard scratched | Russo's Rants | StarTribune.com- As for Konopka? Meh. This isn't huge news, except there might be cap ramifications in favor of the Wild. Konopka did two things well, fight and take face-offs, but didn't do anything else well enough to play more than 8 minutes a game.
First Round Bust: How We Land- Nate opines on the slump.
#YeoWatch: Minnesota Wild Game Day News and Notes- Some Wild notes.
The Team of 18,001: December Wrapup- It's a good thing it's wrapped up, too.
Tending the Fields
World Juniors: Semifinals set with Russia vs. Sweden, Canada vs. Finland | ProHockeyTalk- Dumba remains quiet, while Olofsson notched an assist. Dumba vs. Olofsson could well be the Final.
Off the Trail
NHL - Taking league's temperature at halfway point - ESPN- A look at the good and the bad.
Another step: Stamkos skates in full gear Thursday | ProHockeyTalk- Good for my fantasy team. And the Lightning, of course.
Winter Classic delivers record rating for NBC, ties 2009 game | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- I was not one of those dudes who tuned in. So, there's that.
Team USA Olympic snubs react to roster announcement | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- And there were snubs aplenty.
Team USA’s Bobby Ryan embarrassment | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- None as snubby as Ryan's whose snubbing, and the reasons for it, were made pretty public, and weren't pretty.
Fantasy Hockey: The 20 biggest shocks, stars and trends of 2013 | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- In case you're into this stuff.
Oh, and I guess Tom Powers wrote something.