Hello from the University of Nebraska Medical Center where I am currently being hospitalized indefinitely, possibly until I receive a new heart! What a whirlwind of a week with some eerily accurate predictions from me dating back to last Monday's preview:
1. Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher would be the team's Key Player of the Week. He was, firing head coach Mike Yeo after yet another defeat in Saturday's matinee and naming Iowa head coach John Torchetti as interim bench boss.
2. Washington captain Alex Ovechkin would be the team's Key Opponent of the Week. He was, scoring three second period goals for his 14th career NHL hat trick in the Caps' 4-3 win over the Wild Thursday night. For the record, I predicted an Ovi hat trick and a 4-3 win, albeit in favor of Minnesota.
3. Our own mntrumpterguy predicted a John Klingberg OT game-winner for the Stars Tuesday night on Twitter. I added from Benn or Seguin in the high slot. Sure enough, Klingberg, from Benn, high slot.
The moral of the story? It's still all a complete crap shoot because I also predicted a Nate Prosser game-winning goal on Thursday.
As of this writing - which, to be fair, isn't actually coming to you from the University of Nebraska Medical Center at the moment (I'll be there by the time you read this) - Minnesota sits in a three-way tie for ninth in the West with Arizona and Vancouver with 23 wins and 56 points in 55 games played. Nashville is a good five points ahead for eighth in the West in the second and final wild card spot, while Calgary and Winnipeg are both just three points behind with 53 points. Edmonton, a team that may now boast the best offensive line in the league with the return of Connor McDavid, brings up the rear with 50 points.
With a three-game Western Canada road trip on the books before this weekend's outdoor festivities, the Wild (9-12-6 on the road) will look to improve upon their past-10 record of 1-7-2. That shouldn't be hard to do - shouldn't being the key word.
This Week's Schedule
Monday, February 15th - Minnesota Wild @ Vancouver Canucks 9:00 PM CT (FS-N, FS-WI)
Wednesday, February 17th - Minnesota Wild @ Calgary Flames 9:00 PM CT (FS-N, FS-WI, SN1)
Thursday, February 18th - Minnesota Wild @ Edmonton Oilers 8:00 PM CT (FS-N, FS-WI)
Saturday, February 20th - Minnesota Wild/North Stars Alumni vs Chicago Blackhawks Alumni 4:00 PM CT (FS-N)
Sunday, February 21st - Minnesota Wild vs Chicago Blackhawks 2:30 PM CT (NBC)
Game of the Week
I'm not going to talk about the Central's second seed Blackhawks. Or how they currently sit 21 points ahead of Minnesota. Or how their leading scorer, Patrick Kane, leads the entire NHL with 78 points. Or how they've eliminated the Wild the past three postseason's running. It's an NHL outdoor game. In Minnesota. On Hockey Day in America. On national television. This is must-see TV.
Key Player of the Week
Nearly two-thirds of the way through its 15th season, the Minnesota Wild ushers in a new era with the fourth head coach in franchise history. A proven head coach at nearly all levels of men's puck, former Iowa Wild bench boss John Torchetti will look to light a spark under this dismal team. How well the club performs under his leadership will help the Wild brass determine whether or not a.) this season can still be saved and b.) a better long term solution can be found to coach the team this off-season in free agency.
Key Opponent of the Week
While Kane leads the league by a good 15 points, Canadian hockey phenom Connor McDavid is closest to his 1.32 points per game average with 1.20.
Though his season has been limited with a broken clavicle, McDavid has been superb with nine goals, 24 points and a negative-2 rating in 20 games played. Since returning from injury, the 2015 first overall pick has developed exceptional chemistry with former Wild pick Benoit Pouliot and Edmonton's 2008 first rounder, Jordan Eberle, for what has become the deadliest line in the league. The offensively challenged Wild will have a hard time containing the trio, especially with Jonas Brodin out with a broken foot and Jared Spurgeon's (deep bruise) return in question.
I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to wish good thoughts and prayers for my family and myself in this difficult time in our lives. It has been a whirlwind of a year, and it's not over, but we know the best is yet to come and we're resting firm and secure in our unwavering faith in God and the love and support from our friends and family. That's exactly what you've all become. Thank you.