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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Grading the Minnesota Wild's Defensemen And Goalies

We're halfway through the 2013 NHL regular season, and the Wild find themselves in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. With half the season left, can the Wild hang onto a Playoff berth? Or, will they suffer another late-season swoon that causes them to miss the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season? 

One way or another the answer to those questions figures to lie in the play of the club's defensemen and goaltenders down the stretch. With the Wild still struggling to produce consistent offense, their defense has been the major catalyst for their success throughout much of the season. And their  defense will be the reason they either make or miss the playoffs, because this club is not going to turn into a goal scoring juggernaut overnight.

So, what better time than the season's mid-way point to hand out grades to the Minnesota Wild's defensemen and goaltenders.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Handing out Grades to the Minnesota Wild: Part 1- Forwards

Amazingly, the Minnesota Wild has already played 16 games so far this season, which represents one-third of their schedule for this season. Due to the compressed schedule, this season has flown by rather quickly. With eight wins, six losses and two overtime/shootout losses, the Wild find themselves tied for seventh place in the NHL's Western Conference standings.

The Wild have had an up-and-down season to say the least. They continue to have trouble scoring goals. And they have yet to play a truly complete 60-minute game were they are firing on all cylinders. Despite all of that the Wild would find themselves in the Playoffs if they began today.

**The following grades are based on the first 16 games of the season**

Monday, February 4, 2013

Coyotes Nip Wild; 2-1

Message received loud and clear--through two periods that is. One day after the demotion of two players from the second line to the fourth, and just six hours after swapping fourth line forwards (Darroll Powe to the New York Rangers, Mike Rupp to the Minnesota Wild); the Minnesota Wild played their best first two periods of the season. That wasn't enough though as the Wild fell to the Coyotes 2-1 in the desert.

Thoughts on the Minnesota Wild

Well, the Minnesota Wild find themselves with a 4-3-1 record after two frantic, somewhat sloppy and altogether enjoyable weeks of hockey. Despite the uneven beginning to their campaign, the Wild find themselves just one point behind the Vancouver Canucks, for first place in the NHL's Northwest Division.
And, if the playoffs began today, the Minnesota Wild would be tied for the sixth seed in the Western Conference.

So, all-in-all, not a bad start to the regular season for those who happen to be members of the Minnesota Wild organization, or supporters of the team. With that said, let's take a look at the first two weeks of the season in "rambling" fashion.

Minnesota Wild News and Notes

It has been an eventful past two days for the Minnesota Wild; With the team calling up prospect Charlie Coyle and trading forwards Darroll Powe and Nick Palmieri to the New York Rangers for forward Mike Rupp.

Meanwhile, both Devin Setoguchi and Mikael Granlund have been demoted to the fourth line of the Minnesota Wild because of their lack of production on the second line. 

Obviously, with the acquisition of Rupp and the promotion of Coyle, the Wild is looking to add more size up front. As both Rupp and Coyle will bring power and size to the lineup.

Coyle is the Wild's top prospect, and was the MVP of the QMJHL's Playoffs last season. His game combines power with great hands. He will add size, power, and skill to whatever line he happens to play on.

Rupp, the newest member of the Wild, is a fourth line player that is willing to drop the gloves at anytime. He will bring a much needed dimension of grit to the squad.  And he will add even more character to a team that already has Matt Kassian and Zenon Konopka.  Plus, he has a ton of Stanley Cup Playoff experience, which Minnesota definitely could use if they manage to find a way into the postseason tournament.

Neither Powe nor Palmieri should be missed by Wild fans. Powe, scoreless through eight games this season, is a decent depth forward that has the ability to kill penalties when he is on his game. Yet he is scheduled to make just over a million dollars both this season and next, which is too much for a player of his caliber. Plus, the Wild is loaded with forward prospects, so Powe was deemed expendable.

Palmieri basically had no chance to see the ice in the near future for the Wild. He has produced decent numbers in the minors, but with the depth the Wild has at forward he would have had a hard time even cracking the NHL roster.

All in all, I like the like the moves the Wild have made. After watching the first eight games of the year it was glaring how much the Wild needed to add size up front. With the additions of Coyle and Rupp, the Wild has succeeded in doing just that. And since they only had to give up two spare parts to acquire said size, I would deem the trade a solid maneuver. One, that will hopefully help the Wild to compete harder on the ice every night.