NBCSN’s coverage of the 2020-21 NHL season continues with Monday’s matchup between the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild. Ducks-Wild stream coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
The absences were one thing. The two losses by a combined 11-1 scored were another.
It’s been a tough few days for the Wild, who were brought back down to earth by a pair of losses to the Avalanche. Those defeats followed a run where Minnesota won six of seven games to give them a cushion in the West Division’s top four. As of Monday they have 37 points in 29 games, three behind Colorado for second place and six ahead of the Coyotes.
But for all of the deserved praise for the play of Kirill Kaprizov and Kaapo Kahkonen, the excitement they’ve unleashed, and the wins, the Wild got a good look at the battle the divisional playoffs will be.
“These two games that we played [vs. Colorado], we got a lesson on how to play hockey,” said Mats Zuccarello. “They played really well. We didn’t really have an answer. They were better than us in every aspect of the game. These two games are not acceptable for us.”
The losses gave Minnesota a 2-4-0 record against Colorado this season. They’re a bit better versus Vegas with a 2-1-1 record and a two-game set coming against them next week. They’ve yet to play St. Louis, which means 29 out of their 37 points have come against the Coyotes, Ducks, Kings, and Sharks. But hey, that’s what they’re supposed to do — take the points against lesser teams. Though, when it comes to the teams ahead of them in the standings, points cannot be dropped.
[COVERAGE OF DUCKS-WILD BEGINS AT 7 P.M. ET – NBCSN]
Better days could be ahead, but general manager Bill Guerin may need to add from the outside to strengthen his team’s chances at putting up a fight come playoff time. He won’t be shy about improving Minnesota’s chances, as he told KFAN’s Dan Barriero on Friday (via The Athletic)
“I’m not messing around. I’m not screwing around,” Guerin said. “We’re in this business to win. We desperately want to bring a championship to Minnesota, and I’m going to do whatever I have to do in order to do that. I’m not afraid to ruffle some feathers. … I’m not trying to be a bad guy or say things were done here poorly in the past here, but I have a different vision for the team, and I’m going to carry it out.”
Guerin would go on to say he doesn’t want to jeopardize the sustainability of the team’s success so far, so rentals for futures likely aren’t in his plans.
Two games against the Ducks this week and two against the Sharks next week could get Minnesota back on their game. A stiff test begins in 10 days when they play a pair of two-game sets against Vegas and Colorado, then three in a row against the Blues.
Talk about a measuring stick game, or seven. Those will be real tests to see just what kind of lesson the Wild learned from their Colorado thrashing.
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.