(photo: Dinur Blum)
The Minnesota Wild have not performed up to their expectations this season. With a final regular season record of 43-27-12, and a run to the second round of the playoffs in 2013-14; they were expected to do well again this season. Many people assumed that with their young guns such as Jason Zucker, Erik Haula, Mikael Granlund, and many other good young players, they would only be getting better.
Now, the Wild are 48 games into the season with a record of 23-20-6, which is twelfth in the Western Conference. They are 5 points away from the eighth spot, which is where they need to be in order to make the playoffs.
So what do they need to do in order to make the playoffs again this year? A major problem for the Wild is their lack of goal tending. Niklas Backstrom, their former starting goalie, was injured last season, and has not been able to be a stellar choice since coming back. It seems that Backstrom may be past his prime, as he is now 36 years old. At the beginning of the season, Josh Harding was expected to be the starting goalie, but he broke his foot in an off-ice activity. The Wild then looked to Darcy Kuemper to be their number one goaltender, but he was not doing as well as they had hoped. Finally, they traded for Devan Dubnyk.
Though many think he is not capable of being a number one goaltender, he may have what it takes to bring the Wild out of their slump, and clinch the eighth spot in the playoffs. Dubnyk has had a few big games, one of his biggest was against the Calgary Flames, where he got his second shutout with the Wild, and made thirty saves. If he keeps playing well for the Wild, he could be a huge key for them to make the playoffs.
Another key thing that the Wild need is for their coach, Mike Yeo, to be able to bring them together and motivate them. It has seemed that this season the Wild have not been able to connect as well as they did last year, and just don’t have chemistry. They have been making many mistakes out on the ice, and that has cost them. If Yeo wants his team to make the playoffs, he needs to figure out how to get the spark back, and inspire his team to win.
Whatever the Wild do, they must make some changes if they want to see the playoffs again this year. Even though it has been a tough season for them, it is very possible to make a comeback, but their time to do it must be now.