Who knew that losing a team captain would be so destructive?
Wild coach Mike Yeo says he expects Mikko Koivu will play tonight after missing four games as the Wild take on the Avalanche. At the very least the team’s leading point scorer should help them out in one-goal games. During the Wild’s current six game losing streak, they’ve had three 2-1 losses, one courtesy of the shootout. They’ve also had four games where they scored just one goal.
After winning seven in a row and streaking out to be the NHL’s top team for a spell, the Wild have come back to earth and are now just one point ahead of red hot Vancouver for first in the Northwest Division. That’s a startling fall from grace and one that should have the Wild worried.
Koivu’s presence on the ice is needed to get the team out of its tailspin and to try and prove to many that it’s worthy of the praise it’s gotten this season. If Koivu can’t help them at least generate another goal or two, the Wild could wind up joining last season’s Stars, Thrashers, and Avalanche as teams that started out on fire only to crash and burn miserably out of the playoffs.
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It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.