Tidbits: The "Spinning Wheel" Edition
Posted by Dan Shrader on Saturday, January 15, 2011
What a difference a week makes.
Roughly a week ago Wild Nation was flying high coming off a four game win streak, including two very good victories against Boston and Pittsburgh, who are among the heavies in the East. The roll also brought a sense of legitimacy and suddenly inserted us into a playoff picture and into a group of teams which for some reason have been middling and inconsistent; Phoenix, Chicago, San Jose, LA, etc. There was buzz.
Fast forward to now, where we've been blown out three straight games, including twice at home, both of our starting goaltenders are injured, our current on-roster tandem has less than a handful of NHL games under their belt, and things are negative- the critics, skeptics, and casual observers once again have enough fodder to feel emboldened about their opinions of the Minnesota Wild.
Its not that the team has played terribly, well aside from the Nashville game, but the proverbial bounces aren't going their way, despite just a week ago it was the Pens and the Bruins hitting the posts, while Minnesota were getting the fluky bounces. This is literally nut cutting time; Todd Richards continues to grasp the silver linings, but its up to the players to continue to pin their ears back despite the tough sledding- hard work will bring luck.
- I think this team needs to see results when it plays. And what I mean by that is that there are instances throughout the game, and throughout the season, where there will be shifts where we own the offensive zone, buzz the net, get quality chances, but just can't bury it- yet the opponent will get one chance, score, and now there is a letdown because all that work is for naught. I get the frustration (hell I'd be frustrated too) but I think there are nights where it gets to the team to a point where it gets them off of their game and things snowball.
- Maybe the hardest thing to replace when it comes to Marek Zidlicky's absence on the PP is his willingness to shoot. Opponents and goalies know its a heavy shot, but Zidlicky is willing to hammer it from the point, the slot, the faceoff dots, along the half wall, wherever- without that weapon at their disposal, I think there is a notion where we have to pass to get the "perfect play", instead of just shooting the f'n puck.
- I do like the idea of putting Marco Scandella on the point; he does possess a heavy shot, which he can keep low, which can create rebounds. The problem is last night we never gained the zone, nor prolonged possession to see how he will operate. Also, we don't know the extent of the puck-to-the-head injury he received last night.
- My question about Scandella; what kind of defenseman do the coaches want him to be? Is he going to be more of a matchup style guy like Nick Schultz, or do they want him to be an all-situations guy like Brent Burns? I ask that because at the very least it seems he can be a matchup guy, but on the surface he doesn't have that sort of innate puck skills to be a real offensive catalyst.
- I wonder if the precedent has been set with Patrick O'Sullivan: get your game in gear and compete, or there will be consequences. Cam Barker's been taken off the PP, and was scratched in favor of three rookies. Again.
- What I want to see from Jared Spurgeon is to be more assertive in the offensive zone. Maybe pair him with a stay at home guy like Schultz and let Spurgeon free wheel a little bit.
- O'Sullivan has accepted a demotion to Houston. Two things come to mind; maybe a guy with offensive acumen like him can help the prospects around him, but there's a chance (and I don't think its likely) he could negatively affect the locker room.
- All credit goes to Ms.Conduct for this thought, which she posted on twitter; she mentioned that Khudobin just isn't the same goalie as last year (hungry to succeed) because the perceived chance to move up to the NHL level just isn't there anymore. Why? The likelihood of signing Darcy Kuemper (who's put up huge numbers in the WHL) and the offseason signing of Dennis Endras, who will come across the pond next season. And with Khudobin sharing time with prospect Matt Hackett, someone's gonna have to go, and its likely the likeable Russian.
- Does anyone do more skating and end up with less results than Matt Cullen? When is he gonna start to get some heat for his lack of production?
- Its probably coincidental, and its not meant to be fuel on the fire, but this team is different when Antti Miettinen is back on the Koivu-Brunette line. I know that the chemistry isn't the same, but Chuck Kobasew brings speed to a line which isn't quite the most fleet of foot. And to be honest, this line just isn't productive.
- This is just me, but if I'm Chuck Fletcher, I'm not resigning either Miettinen or Brunette, especially after this year. You have to get younger and more cost effective; but you likely have Mikael Granlund coming over, and ideally you'd want Koivu to be a mentor.
- Finally, it was a scary situation, but I can speak for everyone when I say that we're extremely relieved to hear that Ryan O'Reilly of Colorado is going to be ok. Nobody wants to see a player stretchered off the ice.