The Wild are currently in the midst of a 5-1-1 stretch. Impressive, right? The Wild, currently our of the playoff picture in the Western Conference and in the bottom half of the Central Division, need winning stretches like this in order to become relevant. After a starting the 2017-18 campaign with a spurious schedule, and then not winning those games has put the Wild behind the proverbial 8-ball. Seeing this team make a small run to, at the very least, be in the thick of it by Thanksgiving is great for the team and fans hoping this squad has it in them to make a deep run in the post season.
It doesn’t make their play any less annoying. Sure, to be within striking distance on the by Thanksgiving, an interval most NHL talking heads believe is the first measuring stick when determining which teams will be fighting for the playoffs at the end of the season, is a good thing. But even on this most recent 5-1-1 stretch, with a few big Central Division foes on the horizon, there is still a lot to be cleaned up.
Finally, it’s going to take a lot to get into the playoff picture. The Central Division looks even more challenging with every team being competitive. The Avalanche are better than they were last season. The Blues are way out in front of the division. The Jets have had good players, but whether it was goaltending, coaching, penalties, or whatever that’s held them back, it seems like Connor Hellebuyck has figured things out. The Predators still boast one of, if not the best defensive corps in the league and will be tough to beat. Everyone is waiting on the Stars to do something, but it would behoove the Wild to not wait for Dallas to make their move first.
I’ve been annoyed at this team for a few weeks now, and I know I’ve shared a lot of these annoyances with other fans and analysts. Injuries have been an excuse, but now that health is on their side (aside from Zach Parise) there’s no time to doddle around. These next games against divisional rivals can help to gain some ground, but if the goaltending isn’t up to snuff, the defense doesn’t help, and no one scores because they were too busy trying to find that emotional spark, then consider it a wasted opportunity.
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