Tidbits: The "Get On The Good Foot" Edition

With the season having just four games in the books, you could say that Minnesota's gotten off to a nice little start; two wins, a loss, and a shootout loss. Five out of a possible eight points so far- given the situation with a new coaching staff, new players in key positions and line combinations, and a couple players just blasting out of the gate in Matt Cullen and Devin Setoguchi. There are instances where the forecheck and waves of Wild suffocate, that the "worst defense in the World" is capable of defending and moving the puck, and that Niklas Backstrom is capable of not only keeping the team in the game when the going gets tough, but perhaps outright stealing one as well.
The reality is though that Minnesota's had it fairly easy so far in terms of opponents; Edmonton, Ottawa, and The Islanders aren't amongst the League's elite (The Isles could surprise though) and Columbus, despite their additions, are scuffling about for the time being (time to find a legit goalie.)
The real litmus test comes in the form of the Detroit Red Wings, who are in town tonight. This is a legitimate team, a perennial playoff-bound Stanley Cup contender, a squad that is so precise and skilled that one mistake can mean game over.

Now we can really see what Minnesota is about.

- Won't be there, but if its like Home games against Detroit in the past, the Wings Bandwagon will be parked out front of the X tonight. Don't understand it, but Detroit fans travel well....or come out of the woodwork.
- I've backed off the "Matt Cullen Shouldn't Be Our 2nd Line Center" thing. He doesn't have to drive the line, he just needs to center the line. His speed should be a real asset to that line. The thing I'm curious about though is his ability to win puck battles down low and cycle with Guillaume Latendresse because those two will have to do that in order to create space for Pierre-Marc Bouchard to operate.
- We would be fooling ourselves if we thought there wouldn't be some growing pains with Marco Scandella being handed big time minutes and responsibility. If he can stay healthy, he'll be fine.
- Gotta love Brett Bulmer. I think he sticks the entire year; he is about 20 pounds from being really effective out there. The kid is just fearless.
- Bold prediction: Bulmer plays more games in a Wild sweater than Mike Lundin.
- Maybe its just me, but seeing alot of forced passes from the top line. Remember they've only played together for a month so it should smooth out, but I wonder if they are just trying too hard to feed each other the puck for a shot.
- Never realized how much of a water bug Setoguchi can be. He's the kind of player who can score goals from everywhere in every manner.
- Kind of sour on Marek Zidlicky. He's really feast or famine right now, with the needle leaning a bit more on the detrimental side.
- Finally, I like what Mike Yeo is doing in terms of getting his team to calm down and reset when they start to fall apart. There was a timeout taken by The Isles in the 1st period of that game, and Minnesota took over from there. You could put your finger on that moment when The Wild got their crap together (and if it wasn't for Al Montoya being a complete rock in the the net who knows what could have happened.) Reminded me of the premiere episode of Becoming Wild where Yeo takes a time out during the Aeros-Admirals game and chews his team's ass for their play. The Aeros got their act together for the rest of that game.
I don't know if we ever saw that sort of thing from Todd Richards.

1 comment:

  1. I agree on Cullen. He definitely is playing well enough to stay on the 2nd line. And he was off to a great start last year, but then declined.

    That could be attributed to Latendtresse being hurt, or other reasons he was moved around the lineup.

    Winning battles has never seemed to be his problem, he fights as hard as anyone for pucks, but after his initial scoring burst last year, it seemed his troubles were more related to what he did with the puck. He had difficulty finishing, and he had difficulty setting other players up.

    Hopefully that won't come back.

    On Yeo, I do like that it appears he's willing to take charge, and I think Richards too often had a "let's hope for the best" perspective. As long as the players respond to Yeo, this will be a very savvy hire by Fletcher.