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Wilderness Walk: Back In The Playoff Picture Edition

The Minnesota Wild moved defeated the Phoenix Coyotes on the road to leap-frog them in the standings.

One of Justin Fontaine's goals. Pretty nice, huh?
One of Justin Fontaine's goals. Pretty nice, huh?
Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sport

Just when you're about to bury this team...

On December 31st, the Wild had a fine effort, but was vanquished by St. Louis 2-1. This, of course, sucked. A lot. Because that was the Wild's 6th loss in a row, and the Wild had fallen out of the playoff picture. Mike Yeo was a crappy game from getting fired.

Since then, the Wild have lost Mikko Koivu, Jared Spurgeon, found out Josh Harding would be out longer than anticipated, and even lost Niklas Backstrom for a stretch. They've also been out-shot 130-87 this year.

Oh, and they're 4-0.

The Wild defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 4-1, on the strength of Niklas Backstrom's goaltending and Justin Fontaine's hat trick, the second Wild hat trick in 6 days. Whoa, crazy crazy!

I said this last game, but the Wild really needs to get healthy and step up their possession game. They were badly out-possessed yet again, but still managed to win . A win is a win, though. And this was a road win against a team the Wild are in direct competition with. So, yay! Until things maybe fall apart. Maybe they found that magic whatever Toronto's had for the last two years.

The Wild play their next game at home against Colorado, which is an important game. Mostly to keep up with one of those Wild Card spots, as it's not incredibly likely that the Wild will catch Colorado, who is 5 points ahead with three games in hand.

But you never know, I guess. When the new year rang in, who thought the Wild would be back in the playoff picture in less than 10 days?

On to the Walk.

Wild News

Game Recaps

Fontaine's hat trick sparks suddenly surging Wild | Star Tribune

Fontaine, Backstrom shine in win at Phoenix; Wild considering Theo? | Russo's Rants | Interesting that the Wild are looking outside the organization. It makes sense. With it being hard to swing trades, if the Wild can stabilize the goaltending on the cheap, that's not a bad route to take. Though Backstrom and Kuemper's performances these last two days might put the brakes on that a bit.

Minnesota Wild: Kyle Brodziak, Justin Fontaine spark big win over Coyotes -

Fontaine's hat trick helps win earn 4th straight win with big 4-1 road win over Phoenix

Wild Game Notes: 1-9-14 at Phoenix plus individual Corsi | Hashtag Hockey

Other News

Parise, like Mauer, is the father of twins | Star Tribune- Yay! Also in good news: I still don't have kids. Yay!

Wild notes: Blum steps in for Ballard | Star Tribune- Also, foot protection quotes.

Minnesota Wild: Blum aims to make good first impression - Blum played 12 minutes tonight. Didn't really make an impression on me either way, but again, I'm no scout.

UPDATED: Minnesota Wild Injury Report: Backstrom, Scandella Good To Go- Jason Zucker, however, caught a puck to the knee. Though according to Chad Graff, he's OK. Just needed some stitches.

Off The Trail

Buffalo Sabres show genius in hiring Tim Murray as new GM | Home Ice - So, yeah, Buffalo did stuff.

NHL Second-Half Questions - Grantland- Looking ahead to the second half.

PK Subban being driven out of Montreal, NHL trade rumors, more hockey news links | Home Ice - Drive him to St. Paul.

Wade Redden hangs up his skates after 14 NHL seasons | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- The late part of his career hasn't exactly been good times.

Brian Rafalski signs with ECHL’s Florida Everblades three years after retiring | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- Well, perhaps Redden can do that, too.

Which NHL teams have bullied the terrible Metropolitan Division most? | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- Minnesota's trouble in the standings may come from failing to capitalize on those 11 Metropolitan meetings. They've gone 5-5-1 against that division.

Noel: Setoguchi needs to ‘play his A game,’ after benching vs. Bolts | ProHockeyTalk- And the Wild got a second-rounder for Setoguchi, who has fewer points than Nino Niederreiter. An absolute steal.

The hockey player’s guide to skate sharpening: all the info you need to know | Backhand Shelf | Blogs | Perhaps you'll learn how to better stab opposing players with your skate!