Wild Return Home, Host Sizzling Jets
The Wild return home after a very good 3-1-0 road trip that saw them win in Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal before dropping the finale by a 4-0 score in Boston Tuesday night.
The result of the Wild gaining 6 of the possible 8 points on the road trip has moved then within a point of the final playoff position in the Western Conference behind Anaheim with two games in hand.
Therein lies the frustration with this Wild team. They tease us with wins against lesser teams like Ottaw and Montreal, while combined with a good win in Toronto albeit against a minor league goalie.
So what gives with this team? Is Eric Staal showing that age is catching up with him? Was last season an aberration for Jason Zucker? Has Charlie Coyle turned the corner back at center between Parise and Kunin? What's up with Eriksson Ek?
The questions all seem to be the same year over year.
The one thing I feel is certain is that Bruce Boudreau really is all that is advertised because he gets his team to continually generate quality scoring opportunities regardless of the fact that he lacks the go to sniper(s) that the top teams possess. The guy behind the bench us not the problem.
The problem is the makeup of the team, and until something changes we are in for the roller coaster ride with a team that will teeter on the playoff bubble.
With the Jets coming to town an interesting opponent for the Wild in this spot. Winnipeg owned the Wild last season which was never more evident than the 5 game 1st round playoff series Jets win last April. But the Wild have taken the first two meetings of the season so far with the Jets, once here back on black Friday and again on December 29th in Winnipeg.
The Jets have win 3 of 4 since losing last to the Wild and have won their last two scoring 12 goals in the process. If the Wild are tied make it three straight against the Jets they will have to do it without one of their top shutdown guys Eric Fehr who is out at least 1-2 weeks with an undisclosed injury.
Boudreau would not even say if it was upper body or lower body but we know he was hobbled late in the Ottawa win after blocking multiple shots and then again in Montreal.
Typically the Wild struggle in the first game home after a road trip, but tonight should be a bit different with the heat of the rivalry with their neighbors to the North. It is always a mixed crowd when the Jets are in town as the Winnipeg faithful travel well.
Paul Fenton is actively seeking to make the roster better, as he has been in attendance in several arenas in the past week and a half. With five of the next six on home ice, and lone road game being at the reeling Philadelphia Flyers, Boudreau's team has an opportunity to climb solidly into a playoff position if they can take care of business.
It all begins tonight with the Jets.
It's always Hockey Day in The State of Hockey!
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