Expectations haven’t been this high in the twin cities since the Jacques Lemaire and Marian Gaborik era. Unfortunately the Minnesota Wild are now 4-5-1 and far from meeting these lofty expectations.
This start is certainly not what the Wild had in mind when they invested over 200 million dollars in free agency this offseason. If winning the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter sweepstakes and adding valuable depth pieces in Torrey Mitchell and Zenon Konopka aren’t enough to make them a playoff team, the infusion of young talent should be.
This year’s group of Wild youngsters have failed to rise to the occasion though. Mikael Granlund has struggled to adapt to the NHL game. He was originally expected to be the Wild’s second line center, but was a healthy scratch for the Wild’s game on Thursday against Vancouver. Charlie Coyle has been called up and put on the first line, maybe as a means of pushing Granlund to be more productive and creating internal competition.
With the Wild struggling to generate offense, moves have been made throughout the entire organization to right the ship, with little to no effect. Darroll Powe and Nick Palmieri were sent to the Rangers for Mike Rupp. His size and physicality should make the Wild harder to play against and he provides versatility as he can play either winger or forward. That being said, Rupp isn’t saving the Wild’s season. Second year head coach Mike Yeo has tried changing his lines, but they’ve also yet to yield results. The players held a players only meeting, then followed it up with a horrible effort in front of the home crowd in a lop sided 4-1 defeat at the hands of the divisional heavyweight Vancouver Canucks.
They are far from out of the playoff chase, with plenty of hockey left even in this shortened 48 game season. That being said, I can’t help but wonder how much patience Chuck Fletcher will have with Mike Yeo. There is no reason this roster shouldn’t be able to make the playoffs and if Yeo can’t turn things around, and in a hurry, expect him to be the first head coach in this shortened season to be fired.
You can follow J.D. Burke for more hockey commentary, stats, tweets, etc. @WeveGotTwins and find his blog at http://www.WeveGotTwins.