The Minnesota Wild are getting healthy at the best time of year. For much of the season, injuries have wreaked havoc on the lineup, mumps was like the village bicycle, Josh Harding fought a brick wall (and lost), not to mention the full collapse of the team for a large swath of the season. It has been, to say the least, a wild season full of wild drama.
Yet those days are over sports fans! The Wild have fallen through hockey hell and come back to relevancy, and just gotten stronger along the way. I think it is safe to say that while many injured or sick players have returned, no return has brought with it more hope and promise than the return of this teams heart and soul. A players who has more talent in his right knee than most have in their entire bodies. A player, whose name carries with it the utmost honor and dignity we have come to find in any to pull an NHL sweater over their head.
We are talking of course, about Matt Cooke.
Cooke gutted out a whopping 29 games for your Minnesota Wild this season, and his 4 goals in 24 shots ranks him 2nd on the team in shooting percentage, netting 16.7% of his shots on goal. Of Matt Cooke's 4 goals, all of them counted, which is just a staggering feat when you think about it. With just 13 penalty minutes on the season, I think it's safe to say Cooke has certainly reformed his game, while reforming the knees of the opposition. But his most impressive stat, and one that is sure to be some sort of a record in the NHL, has to be his +/- rating of 0. The guy is simply put, un-not-stoppable.
Do you want to dig a little deeper? Lets go ahead and dig a little deeper. This season, 5v5, Cooke hasn't even been playing up to his true potential. With a 99.9 PDO, Cooke's poor puck luck, like his elbows, has nowhere to go but up-up-up. Even more impressive, when Cooke is paired up with Sean Bergenheim and Jordan Schroeder, the teams GF% is 100%. WOW! It's worked for about 10 minutes of ice time so far, so why wouldn't keep working throughout the playoffs? Can we just give them Ryan Suter like minutes now please? I would completely understand if the rest of the NHL just gave up. Why bother when the competition is impossible to beat?
Matt Cooke is clearly a superior hockey player. In last years playoffs, he was the only player in the NHL who was suspended for more games than he actually played. Stats like that do not come by accident. It takes a player with a ton of grit, and we know how much Head Coach Mike Yeo loves him some grits. He plays with the deadly combination of fire and enthusiasm of a rookie, and the brains and work ethic of a seasoned veteran. Matt Cooke, and his golden knee are back, and not a moment too soon.
One Wild fan was overheard at a local watering hole as saying, "Matt Cooke is back? Oh boy!"
Simply stated, with Matt Cooke back in the lineup the Wild are getting a shot in the arm right when they need it the most. We've heard General Manager Chuck Fletcher use the phrase "gaining a player back from injury is like making a trade that doesn't cost you anything." This is no different. The Wild are regaining one of the true NHL superstars back in the lineup. The players rally around him, and the opposition wears extra pads while he's in the lineup. When the game is on the line, there is no better player to have on the ice than Cooke. He is a guy who's the envy of every other NHL squad. He is someone you want on your team, because if he wasn't, you might have to play against him, and just ask Tyson Barrie how that turns out.