Confidence. According to players and coaches, it's been an issue for this Wild team. Despite starting a talented roster, the Wild have a record of only 16-12-2 and sit outside a playoff spot. Is this a confidence issue, or just some bad luck? Since October 29th, the Wild are last in the league in PDO (shooting percentage+save percentage) at just 96.3%. That's a dismal number, and it's pretty amazing that the Wild actually went 11-9-2 in that stretch.
Sure, the team has problems. Those problems are all the more clear when the team is losing. However, there is no way this bad luck can continue over a long period of time (unless of course the goaltending truly fails).
Perhaps the turnaround begins tonight against the Nashville Predators. The Preds have surprised the hockey world by getting off to a fast start of 42 points in 30 games and sit in third place in the Central Division. Many seem to forget that Nashville was only three points out of a playoff spot last year. Add in a healthy Pekka Rinne, a rising star in Filip Forsberg and new head coach Peter Laviolette and you've got a strong playoff contender. The Wild will need to play a full 60-minute game if they want to pick up two points.
Lots to get to today, so on to the Walk:
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Wild practice: Returning to health | Russo's Rants | StarTribune.com - Matt Cooke and Ryan Carter practiced with the team and there's a chance they could play tonight, adding much needed depth.
Wild's Matt Cooke 'feels good,' but won't rush return - TwinCities.com - It's amazing how much the team has missed Cooke. Let's hope he can play up to speed when he does return.
Minnesota Wild: Underachieving or ready to pounce? | For The Win - The writers at USA Today still believe the Wild are a playoff team.
Failures From Confidence - Articles - Articles - Homepage - Wild Xtra - Giles looks at the confidence issue and how this team can overcome it.
Ryan Suter skates through pain of father's death, mumps scare | Puck Daddy - A nice article about how Ryan Suter is dealing with a difficult season off the ice.
Off The Trail
Top 10 most heinous on-ice acts of 2014 (Puck Daddy Year in Review) | Puck Daddy - Surprisingly, the Wild are a part of three of the top 10.
Boston Bruins shooting for T.J. Oshie trade? | Puck Daddy - We haven't had any blockbuster trades yet this year. An Oshie trade would certainly change that.
30 Thoughts: Possible trade fits for Oilers - Sportsnet.ca - A few more thoughts on possible trades, including Zack Kassian and Taylor Hall.
theScore: Penguins' Maatta tests positive for mumps - The Mumps continue, this time to the Penguins' young stud defensemen.
Beauchemin says blame Blues, not Ducks, for NHL mumps outbreak | Puck Daddy - Speaking of the mumps, there's more and more evidence pointing towards St. Louis as the source of the epidemic.
Super 16: New York Islanders' Kyle Okposo has uneven start to season - Super 16: NHL Power Rankings - Despite being very mediocre for the past month, the Wild still manage to hold down a spot in the power rankings.
Top 10 shocking transactions of 2014 (Puck Daddy's Year in Review) | Puck Daddy - Somehow the Chad Rau for Curt Gogol trade didn't make the top 10. This is outrageous!
The Year in Holy S#!t: Chicago and Los Angeles Melt Our Minds With an Overtime for the Ages - As everyone recaps 2014, here's a look at one of the best hockey games of the past decade.
NHL Grab Bag: Hail Canada! - Your weekly grab bag.
Finally, here's a great holiday video from the Penguins:
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