Monday, January 9, 2017

The Game: Wild Quietly Good

By Nick

What do the Wild earning 5 of 6 points on the dreaded "Bermuda Triangle" trip through California, and the Spanish Inquisition have in common?  No one expects either of them to happen.

But that's exactly what the Wild just did.  And, more importantly, on the back of seeing their winning streak come to an end at the hands of the Bluejackets.  And that's the piece that has me particularly interested.  What does the 2-0-1 run through California mean?  It certainly means the Wild is resiliant.  And it might mean the Wild is....good.

At some point it becomes impossible to ignore or fare over the statistics.  The ones that count, anyway.

  • How about a +38 goals differential?  That's not just riding the coattails of the 3-straight shutouts anymore.  They had a +13 goals differential after the Dallas shutout on October 29th.  And the Wild doesn't have a 10-0 (CBJ), or 10-1 (MTL) win padding their goals differential. 
  • How about being tied for most ROW in the West, and tied for third-best in the league?  
  • How about a 12-5-5 road record?  
  • How about having four players with at least 10 goals - second-most in the division?  Chicago has five, St. Louis and Winnipeg also have four each.  Nashville and Dallas have three each, and Colorado has two.  

The problem is that we've seen good first halves in the past.  The Wild has salted away the best first half in team history this season, with two games to go before they hit 41.  But, do you know which season they just usurped for best first half?  Last season.

And that's the primary reason why we're not willing to let ourselves believe this team might be good.  Because being good through game 39 hasn't amounted to much in our teams' past.  Just like being 5-0 didn't mean squat this year.  And it's not like we've got those championships (hell, that championship - singular - if we're looking back over the last 25 years) to fall back on.  But we do have a heapin' helpin' of heartache and disappointment.

The numerical indications are there.  And there's a different feeling to this group.  There's a legit number one center, for starters.  Absorbing that loss to Columbus and then doing what they just did in California is a statement.  So why don't we feel better?

Like it or not, the Wild is going to need to produce the rest of the season, and into the playoffs to overcome the cumulative impact of prior seasons' iterations of the team.

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