The Wild are currently sitting second in the West Division, somewhere no one truly expected them to be less than a month away from the trade deadline and almost halfway through this shortened season. While the success comes to a modicum of surprise, the players in the locker room simply believe in themselves and their ability to win many more.
When asked by Kevin Gorg what the team is feeling outside of the arena, Bonino quickly acknowledges the overall thought process that every Minnesota player is currently beaming with.
“There’s just a belief that we can win,” the 32-year-old center said. “The first two games of the year, coming back in each game and winning in overtime, definitely go a long way to giving you that edge, that you can come back when you’re down.
“We spend more time together here. It’s an uncharacteristic year where we’re at the hotel with each other more than normal, obviously we can’t hang out a ton, but this is it. You go to the rink or you go home. So, getting to know everybody really well; it’s a great room, great bunch of guys.”
It really is a weird season. With no real other option other than to play some damn hockey, the Wild have certainly succeeded at doing that.
As Bonino mentions, the first two games of the season—both 4-3 overtime wins against the Los Angeles Kings—demonstrated how much Minnesota could just will offense throughout the lineup and keep the pressure on to have the opponent eventually fold and lose their points in the standings.
When asked about the depth of this roster and the consistency some players have shown, Bonino gave credit to them and a look at what he knows from winning two championships as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I think the teams with depth usually end up going pretty deep in the playoffs in this league. So, it’s great to see,” Bonino said succinctly.
He certainly knows what it takes and as a member of the elusive HBK line that served as the Penguins third line with Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel, he knows that it’s the depth that matters. Top-heavy teams always see early exits and are easy to exploit, but someone like Minnesota with four forward lines that play the same way, have the offensive and defensive tools capable of winning every puck battle and scoring goals, there’s strong possibility that the Wild will make some noise this summer.
It gives me chills; the possibility of more thrills.