"The top line of Staal, Zucker, and Coyle have a lot of chemistry and have all seemed to find their games at the same time. It was also good to see Dubnyk have another solid game. The puck support was also a lot better than the first four games."
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We release two Minnesota Sports Ramble blogs a week, one on Tuesday (Minnesota Vikings related) and one on Thursday (Minnesota Wild and Minnesota Timberwolves related).
In our latest edition, which is in our classic "Ramble style" bullet-point format, Wild analyst Peter Ripka comments on the teams first wins, their lackluster losses, their penchant for playing well with their backs against the wall, and the play of the old vs. younger players on the roster.
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And finally, a win
When we went to print last Thursday, the Wild were yet to be victorious. They picked up their first win that night, beating the Blackhawks 4-3 in overtime. Reason to celebrate? Well, why not, it was a win, but it had at least as much to do with what Chicago was lacking. They are horrible defensively, in addition to missing their #1 goaltender. That game didn't start any upward trends for the wild, as their next game against Carolina, in which they were completely outmatched, showed.
Two loses, two different stories
There wasn't much positive to take out of the loss to the Hurricanes. They were outworked, looked completely lost on the ice, and were lucky to steal the point they did. Now, on the other hand, the Predators game showed us a lot. Even though they lost in regulation and didn't secure the pity point, they played more of their style and were competitive for a big majority of the game.
Why can't they always do that?
Despite being down to 10 forwards, the Wild held on to beat the Coyotes 2-1 at the X on Tuesday. It seems like they tend to play better when their backs are against the wall (at least when they aren't woefully outmatched, see the playoff series against the Jets last year). Year after year we battle to make the playoffs after being mediocre the first 3/4 of the season.
...why can't we always do that?
A win is a win
As far as the Coyote game specifically goes, it also helps that they have only scored in two of their five games this year, and have yet to have a 5-on-5 goal. The top line of Staal, Zucker and Coyle have a lot of chemistry and have all seemed to find their games at the same time. It was also good to see Dubnyk have another solid game. The puck support was also a lot better than the first four games.
- So far this year, few of the young Wild players have stepped it up. However, Erickson Ek, was trending upward until he suffered a lower body injury in the Carolina game. Seeler has also shown that he wasn't just a fluke last year when he made his debut.
- During the games against Nashville and Arizona, the Wild finally started looking faster and were making quicker passes and supporting the puck a lot better. If they continue to play that way, they will win a lot of games. TBD if they can keep that pace up, especially considering the age of the team and the increasingly fast NHL.
- Speaking of our aged veterans, it has clearly been harder for them to shake off "summer hockey" than their younger teammates. If they are still having the same issues once we get 10-15 games in, it'll a little easier to say it is simply age that is getting to them.
Peter Ripka is the original Rambling On podcast co-host and has been a contributor since its inception. He’s currently the Wild analyst, a position he’s held for several years. A Wild and Twins season ticket holder, his writing combines the passion of a fan and the insight of a beat writer.