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  • Wilderness Walk: A Tough Road Ahead

    Image courtesy of © Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
    Thomas Williams

    Climbing the standings in the NHL is hard at any time, but it is especially hard when you have to face a load of teams that are having better seasons, to do it. For the Minnesota Wild, that is exactly what they have to do for the rest of 2023.

    Four points out from a playoff spot, the Wild will have to stare down a barrel of the proverbial gun and try to steal some points from teams that are simply better. For the rest of 2023, their opponents are as follows, in order: Flames, Canucks, Penguins, Bruins, Canadiens, Bruins again, Red Wings, Jets, and Jets again. Every single one of those seven teams listed have won more games than the Wild currently have.

    And as another reason to not feel too good about our favorite hockey team, despite four points seeming like nothing, there are still three teams above them in the standings who are also not in a playoff spot. Maybe more than ever in recent history, the Wild have tough competition to try and pry the playoffs from some team's hand. They will have their work cut out for them.

    That's Wild

    • Jonas Brodin is hurt and will be out for a while, but fortunately, the Wild have been down this path before with one of their key players. They have a blueprint to survive Brodin's absence. [Hockey Wilderness]
    • Sampling the New York restaurant where Russian NHL stars get their taste of home. [The Athletic]
    • It doesn't show in the standings (yet) but the Wild can sense their improvement in practices and throughout their games. [StarTribune]

    Off the trail...

    • This past weekend in the NHL was violent. Bone-crushing hits, powerful punches, and more. Things are seemingly getting out of hand. [Sportsnet]
    • Seattle Kraken goalie Joey Daccord debuted a really cool mask featuring Mariners baseball cards. [NHL dot com]
    • ...Is it time to take the Philadelphia Flyers seriously? [DailyFaceoff]

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    I have to disagree with Thomas here, the task isn't as daunting as it may seem. 

    1. We have been East Coast heavy in our schedule while teams above us have not been. It's not just East Coast, but mostly good East Coast. 
    2. We have games in hand on most of the teams above us. Win those games and we'll jump. Edmonton, who is ahead of us also has games in hand and is out of the playoff list right now. I expect them to be in at year's end too. 
    3. Record doesn't mean as much right now as who you've played. I suggest that while better records are above us, better teams may not be. But, for this to be true, h2h meetings need to be wins for our guys. 

    We're on the last day of 3 days off. I suspect that Monday was an off day, but I'd bet on some good hard practice yesterday and today. I'd also bet that these practices had a lot of instruction as to how Hynes wants to see the game played. I'd also bet the practices were heavily attended. 

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