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  • Five Reasons to 'Buy' the Wild in 2015-16



    The Wild are returning almost everyone from last season

    Why is this a reason to watch? Continuity for the Wild is something that was all too fleeting in the first few years since Mike Yeo took over as head coach. With a lot of roster turnover and an influx of younger talent melding with established veterans, the Wild needed to grow up together. The young, talented players that burst on to the scene in 2013 have now had three consecutive years in which they've made it into the post-season. Couple that mild success in the playoffs with the experience of three full seasons at the NHL in which they've overcome a lot of adversity, the Wild should be experienced and battle-tested enough to make it to the post-season again with the focus on the Stanley Cup.

    After finishing with 55 points in 48 games in the lockout-shortened season in 2013 to barely sneak into the playoffs, the Wild have finished with 98 and 100 points in 2013-14 and 2014-15. While there has been improvement over the last few seasons, the Wild have only been good enough for a first Wild card berth. But standings points don't tell the whole story.

    This Wild squad has changed it's style of play over the past season to a much more mobile, puck-possession style. With the emphasis placed more on controlling the puck, the Wild went from the 22nd ranked team with a 48.9 Score Adjusted FF%* to 10th last season, at 52.4%. This current squad is capable of good things and with almost the same team returning, that consistency and continuity should help the Wild to the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.

    The Wild may have one of the best defensive corps in the league

    When the Wild make the additions of Matt Dumba and Mikey Reilly, the Wild should be able to provide more offense from the blue line and on the power play. As punchless as the Suter/Brodin pairing is offensively, the Wild should make up for it with the bottom-four. Scandella and Spurgeon already combined for 58 points in 64 and 66 games respectively, and adding an offensive defenseman like Mikey Reilly to the heavy shot that Matt Dumba possesses to the mix should provide some offensive potency.

    The Stadium Series comes to TCF Bank Stadium

    Why the Blackhawks/Wild match-up? Ratings, Ratings, Ratings.

    During last seasons Stanley Cup Playoffs, the 2nd round series between the Wild and Hawks drew outrageous numbers for NBC Sports Network. According to the website SportsMediaWatch.com, the first three games of the series, "rank as the most-watched telecasts of the postseason on cable."

    Couple that with the fact that both teams are geographically close, and the potential to capture the traveling Blackhawks fans, and the match-up only makes financial, competitive, and historical sense.

    Ultimately, the Wild have made a gamble. It doesn't guarantee a win, but knowing his track record, and playing the odds right (in this case with a fair contract that makes him only the 20th highest-paid goalie in the NHL), the probability for success is higher.

    The Central Division will have a different look


    But it won't be easy. Five teams made the post-season from the Central- even the worst team in the division finished with 90 points. Adding to the difficulty, six of the seven teams in the division were in the top 10 for Fenwick For percentage (score adjusted). That means that all of the teams (sans Colorado) played a puck possession game and were quite good at it. But despite the difficulty, by returning a strong team, and with the balance of power evening out, the Wild could make a move for a Division Championship.

    *Score-Adjusted Fenwick For % measures a team's share of unblocked shot attempts when they're on the ice. The best teams generally get around 55%, and the pre-Parise/Suter Wild hung out around the 44% mark.

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