Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Wild DID turn things around in the second half of the season…and clinched a playoff spot

Flashback to January 29, I wrote this:

“…the Wild are going to need about 46 points in the remaining 36 games of this season (with a record of 22-10-4). Can the Wild pull it off? It will be interesting…I would like to believe the Wild could possibly turn things around and make a push towards getting into the playoffs. However, I think the Wild have dug themselves into quite a hole and I can see them possibly playing spoiler towards the end of the season.” (From Can the Wild turn things around in the second half? January 29, 2015). 


Back to the present, the Wild managed to clinch their playoff spot with a 2-1 over the Blackhawks at the Madhouse on Madison last night.


Yes, I will admit, this die-hard Minnesota Wild fan was skeptical that the team was going to be able to pull this off.

There is one person who I would like to thank for this Wild turn-around, Devan Dubnyk. 

Dan Myers from NHL.com wrote this in the article “Five reasons Wild clinched playoff berth” (nhl.com) under the number one reason of Dubnyk’s Brilliance:


The Wild were a battered and beaten group the morning of Jan. 14. They had lost 7-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins the night before, and at 18-19-5, Minnesota was third from the bottom in the Western Conference standings…Later that day, general manager Chuck Fletcher traded a third-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft to the Arizona Coyotes for goaltender Devan Dubnyk. The rest is history.”

Graphic Coutesy of NHL on NBC on Twitter
Nino Niederreiter gave this statement to the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo:

…Let’s be honest: The Dubnyk trade changed everything…During that time, we just needed a new face in the locker room. Everybody was very frustrated, everything always looked the same. We called up players, but it never really felt different. We brought Dubnyk in, it was a fresh, new face, we got to know a new guy, we had a great start and there was trust right away in each other again.”  (startribune.com, April 1, 2015)
Russo mentioned in the same April 1 article:
The turnaround for the team and thus individuals since Devan Dubnyk’s Jan. 15 arrival has been remarkable. The most stunning statistic in the Wild’s NHL-best 26-6-2 second half is the fact its goal differential is an NHL-best plus-47. That’s 104 goals scored (3.05 per game) and 57 given up (1.67 per game)” 
It also doesn’t hurt that the Wild have been winning on the road.
Myers included this in his “Five reasons” article (under the fourth reason, Winning on the road):
"Minnesota has lost once in regulation on the road since the Dubnyk trade, going 15-1-2 over that span. The Wild have won 11 consecutive road games since a 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 16, the longest road winning streak in the NHL since the San Jose Sharks won 10 in a row in 2007.
The Wild have already set team records for road victories (23) and road points (48) in a season, and they still have two games left away from Xcel Energy Center."
Going into the playoffs, I think those road wins are going to be key. The Wild have been winning on the road and teams are definitely starting to take notice. 
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said this after last night's loss to the Wild to NHL.com's Brian Hedger:

"We tried to make plays [in the third] and turned pucks over, and that led to plays in our own end…The Wild have gotten better the last three years. They've got some younger guys, they've got some depth, they've got some speed and skill throughout their lineup, and they check extremely well, and they can frustrate you. They'll make you pay if you try to take them on."

Courtesy of Kevin Lass from Facebook

The Wild did it. They clinched a play off spot this year after the roller coaster of a season they had. This is the third straight year the Wild will be in the playoffs.  As I stated before, I was skeptical and believed the Wild would be playing the role of "spoiler" this season. The Wild proved me wrong, and I'm happy about that. 



Link to Dan Myers's Five reason Wild clinched playoff berth here.

Link to Michael Russo's April 1st article from Star Tribune here



                 


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