The Wings take on the Wild tonight in a matchup that's likely to cause some boos to rain down from the stands (although they should be moos, just to be funny). With that in mind, we reached out to Hockey Wilderness for a primer on the our opponent. Bryan Reynolds was kind enough to give us some insight.
1. Expectations for the Wild are all over the place. Some say they're still not a playoff team while others say they'll win the division. What does Hockey Wilderness' supercomputer tell you?
I think they make the playoffs, but are not much of a factor once there. I still don't think they have what it takes to knock Vancouver out of the top spot, either. There are still too many question marks on the blue line, and still a large number of "if this, then that" scenarios beyond the top line. For example, if Mikael Granlund wins the Calder, the Wild have a much better chance to win the division. Too many what ifs for this to be a real contender. That said, crazier things have happened. Barring regression to Oilers level ineptitude, they should make the playoffs.
2. Who's the best Finnish rookie on your team? How's he looked so far in just three games and how long until he's going to be the force to be reckoned with on the roster?
Best Finnish rookie on a Tuesday when the moon is in waxing gibbous has to be Finnish Messiah Mikael Granlund. The pressure on this kid is intense. Wild fans have watched him grow up and had fits waiting for him to come to North America. He's a rock star in Finland, which only adds to the pressure. his first game, he looked a bit timid, but came out of his shell to score his first goal. The last two games, he has been invisible. Needs to get his confidence up and start forcing the issue. NHLers are not going to just let him score. As far as being a true force to be reckoned with? Second half of next year. He'll likely follow a very Mikko Koivu-like development line.
3. For years, the term "Minnesota Wild hockey" has been associated with phrases like "trap", "as exciting as a coma" and "the who what now?" - obviously fans of the team like whatever the team does to win and the opinions of those who aren't fans of the team are as meaningful as a Daryl Katz apology, but how applicable is the "trap hockey" label to the Wild anymore?
Mike Yeo doesn't play Jacques Lemaire hockey, if that's what you mean. Yeo wants his players hard on the forecheck, two players in, pushing the play. The guys who fall back tend to get on his bad side and lose minutes quickly. With Zach Parise around, the Wild's forecheck is ridiculously improved. I've never seen a guy who wants the puck more than he does. Always on it, always motoring. It's weird to see actual hockey being played at the Xcel Energy Center, to be honest. Now, give the Wild a one goal lead going into the third period? I would not be at all surprised to see little effort put into chasing guys around the opposing net.