Having discussed what impressed us, and what disappointed us, we continue our Wild blogger round table discussion we started yesterday. Today, the panel attacks some burning questions in the mind of every Wild fan. We won't waste a bunch of time boring you, we'll just get right to it.
Hopefully you remember our esteemed panel:
Make the jump for the panel's feelings on the playoffs (PLAYOFFS?!?) and what the Wild is missing. Also, let us know how you feel about the questions. We want to know what the Wilderness is thinking as well.
3. Do the Wild make the playoffs, and why or why not?
Nathan: No. The Wild will not make the playoffs because they still don't have the offense to make a run, and with Zidlicky out, the depth will fall apart, because the team is missing that second puck mover, and I don't see them going out to pick one up, at least not one of Zidlicky's caliber.
Monica: They are right on the cusp. I think they can do it. They might not get far but if they come in eighth seed and the Vancouver Canucks are first then surely they could make it to the second round.
Heather: This is SO wrong but I hope not, so the Aeros are fully stocked for OUR playoffs. There is not enough talent in the organization to make two good teams. One team must sacrifice itself so the other can continue. Be my martyr, Wild! Fall on the sword for your little brother down south!
Elise: They have a chance to sneak in one of the bottom playoff spots, but it's going to take a good second half. Some of the teams around the Wild can be very good and have just dropped off some (LA, San Jose and St. Louis are the ones I'm most surprised about) so the Wild's playoff future depends not only on their play but that of the bubble teams around them and whether or not they turn it around
Nathan W: I wrote about this a couple weeks ago but it's hard to see them making the playoffs. While the team has been showing signs of life and are overall a better team than last year, they have been inconsistent and do not have depth in the system to overcome injuries. Minnesota can still make the playoffs and getting back Guillaume Latendresse and his twenty-five goals will help but the team will need to show more consistency than they did over the first fifty games; especially at home. If I had to make a guess, the Wild finish around tenth in the West.
Dan S: They do if:
- They can scheme a way to be successful against the speedy teams in the league, because the Wild just isn't fast enough to handle it.
- No extended losing streaks; in fact, they have to look at each game as if they cannot lose in regulation. Points are at a premium now.
- Finally, and most importantly...they HAVE TO BE BETTER AT HOME. A great road record doesn't mean squat with a .500 home record.
4. What is missing from making this team a true contender?
Nathan: A 40+ goal scorer and another defenseman who can run the breakout. It should have been Burns, Zidlicky and Barker, but we know how that turned out.
Monica: Solid players. When Mikko Koivu and Martin Havlat are carrying the team up front with the help from Brett Bruns on defense that is never a good sign. If one of them happened to get injured, the playoff hopes could be gone in an instant.
Heather: Chemistry. Jesus H. Christ. CHEMISTRY. They look like they're barely holding it together some nights. It's seriously unfun to watch when the Bad Wild show up. To be honest, I think I shut down on this team a month or so ago. I still watch the games, but I don't have a lot of heart invested. They were dysfunctional for so long... *stares blankly into the distance*
Elise: A scoring winger who has chemistry with Mikko Koivu. Antti Miettinen is nice and everything but he's not a good enough finisher or consistent enough to provide that top line and MK with the scoring they should be producing. Goalies have been good and the young defense has been surprisingly solid.
Nathan W: The biggest thing missing from the Wild is an elite scorer. They have a lot of the other pieces in place that an elite team has like outstanding goaltending, a #1 defenseman and a supporting cast but an elite scorer to go alongside Mikko Koivu and Martin Havlat would take Minnesota to the next level. Unfortunately for the Wild, about ten other teams can make the same claim.
Dan S: To me, and its moreso in hockey than in any other sport, is that all you need is a playoff birth. Its easy to look at teams on paper and identify the sexy favorites (Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Detroit, etc.) but really its a crapshoot- Edmonton in 2006, aside from Chris Pronger, wasn't particularly a "sexy" team going in, and they lost in the finals against Carolina. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we should plan the parade route, but I think this team could do some damage if they make it in; we've got the goaltending, talent, and a team concept. Winning 6-5 games isn't exactly the norm in late April, May, or June.
JS: Same thing as last year: A scorer. Our goaltending is back, our defense is solid, we just need that game-breaker on the first line. Hopefully the return of Latendresse will help, but it wouldn't hurt to get another one. Our first line combines for 94 points in 138 games... that is ugly. I love Bruno with all my heart, but he's been on the first line AND the first PP unit all season long and he has a mere 28 points. Miettinen has never really deserved a first line spot, he's got 23 points so far.
Ryan: A bonafide goal-scorer. Mikko Koivu and Martin Havlat are nice players, but aren't ones a team should lean on for scoring. I don't know what Chuck Fletcher needs to do to fix this (draft better than Doug Risebrough, maybe?), but there's simply no one up front that scares other teams with their goal-scoring abilities.
Jeremy: A top notch scoring winger. The Wild have lots of guys that work hard (sorry tom) and can create offense. But what they are really missing is that one guy who can score at will. Havlat has shown flashes of being that guy at times be he is really more of a playmaker.
Bryan: A finisher, defensive forwards who play defense, someone who will shoot from anywhere, a big body in front of the net, and Wes Walz. The finisher should be self-explanatory. They need a sniper, someone who can score from anywhere, and use the talents of the playmakers they have. Goals aren't always pretty, and that's where the shooter and big body come in. Put the puck at the net, let the big man fight and drive it home. It is infuriating watching the forwards skate right past the front of the net. Park someone out there and fire away. Mark Parrish is still on the payroll...
The defensive forwards need to play some defense. They are not out there to score goals, they are there to prevent them. This is where Wes Walz comes in. Hire him to teach these guys how it is done. Rick Wilson worked for the d-men, hire Walz to teach the forwards. Championships are won by defense, and the Wild don't have it.