If the Wild want to make a playoff push, they can’t afford being upset by a team like the Red Wings. Detroit gave Minnesota a scare by going up 2-1 in the first period, but the Wild ultimately won 4-2 on Wednesday.
Wild move within five points from playoff spot
Losing against dreadful Detroit would have been brutal for Minnesota. Instead, the Wild improved to 23-21-6 on the season, or 52 points in 50 games played.
Wild fans searching for optimism will find a mixed bag. The Wild hold an advantage over the two wild-card teams in games in hand, yet the Predators have a bigger advantage in that regard (Nashville: 47 GP) while sitting at 51 points. Take a look at the races for the wild-card spots:
Not great, but it could be worse, too.
The larger plus is that, so far, the Wild have mostly taken advantage of a long stretch of home games, as originally discussed here.
|Jan. 16:||vs. Tampa Bay (3-2 win)|
|Jan. 18:||vs. Dallas (7-0 win)|
|Jan. 20:||vs. Florida (5-4 loss)|
|Jan. 22:||vs. Detroit (4-2 win)|
|Feb. 1:||vs. Boston|
|Feb. 4:||vs. Chicago|
|Feb. 6:||vs. Vancouver|
|Feb. 7:||at Dallas|
|Feb. 9:||vs. Colorado|
|Feb. 11:||vs. Vegas|
|Feb. 13:||vs. Rangers|
|Feb. 15:||vs. San Jose|
Three out of four wins is a pretty good start (but a bad “Meatloaf” cover). Once the Wild get back into the groove on Feb. 1, it’s key to exploit that stretch of seven of eight in Minnesota.
Minnesota gutted Wednesday out, dominating the second period in goals (3-0) and shots on goal (14-4). Jason Zucker, Eric Staal, Mathew Dumba, and Mats Zuccarello triggered the rally:
Wild need Dubnyk to rebound
Bruce Boudreau deserves credit for molding the Wild into a dominant defensive team. While their scorers won’t terrify opponents, they’ve generally been competent enough.
But if the Wild are going to complete a difficult push into the playoffs, they need Devan Dubnyk to rebound.
Dubnyk came into Wednesday with a troubling .892 save percentage, versus a .915 mark for his career. Just about every metric points to the Wild providing a nurturing atmosphere for their goalies, so the results need to start rolling in.
Granted, sometimes luck just isn’t on your side:
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.