The Wild are feeling a bit better about themselves after winning two straight in New York and Detroit. The work ethic showed back up, and Devan Dubnyk was markedly better.
Tonight, back on home ice a week after a fiasco on National TV where they were completely dismantled by the St. Louis Blues, the Wild get another crack to avenge such an embarrassment.
It's not that losing to the suddenly hot Blues is embarrassing, but embarrassing that they didn't even put up a fight. Jordan Binnington may be for real, but the Wild didn't even force anyone to find out if he is.
It's striking the difference of this team on home ice compared to the road. While admittedly against two bottom dwelling teams in the East, the Wild crashed the net, passed effectively, and got the greasy goals. On home ice, they're more interested in putting on a show for the home fans...at least that's what former Wild captain and Fox Sports North analyst Wes Walz has said. What this team is failing to understand is that Minnesota fans aren't interested in how the puck goes in, but _that_ the puck goes in. The Wild need wins.
After Charlie Coyle was shipped out to Boston like the Drop Kick Murphys, Ryan Donato has stepped into the third line alongside Joel Eriksson Ek and Luke Kunin. Let's just say he's offered that line an offensive spark. The "KED line," as Wild Twitter has dubbed the line of kids is absolutely on fire. Kunin and Eriksson Ek have the goals, while Donato has added three assists in his two games on Minnesota.
Jordan Binnington continues to backstop the Blues to victories. The Blues have won 11 of the last 12 games in February. An amazing turn around by interim coach Greg Berube. Vladimir Tarasenko has been awakened since the firing of Mike Yeo. Remember when people were talking about Tarasenko potentially getting moved as the Sharks were ready to swarm? Tarasenko has exploded for 25 goals 52 points. While definitely a down year for the Russian stud, his numbers were depressed by the rough start to the season.
Ryan O'Reilly is the Blues' point leader with 63 and has been good pretty much all year long. The Wild have to lock down those two players. Even at their best, Tarasenko has proved impossible to slow down, and O'Reilly likes to beat up on the Wild. That said, if the Wild come into this game thinking that after a couple wins on the road that every thing is all better, the home crowd won't forget to remind them that the Wild haven't arrived yet.
The game is back on National TV. Hopefully the brave souls going will be treated to a better showing than what was witnessed just a week ago. The puck drops at 6:00 PM CT and can be watched on NBC Sports Network. Listen, as always, to Tom Reid and Bob Kurtz on FM 100.3 KFXN in the Twin Cities, or the Wild Radio Network affiliates.