Rambling On began in 2012 as a blog and podcast covering sports, music, culture, and more. We've gone though many transformations since then. Check out our complete history for more information.
Picking up where Series Five left off, Series Six of Rambling On (2019-2020) will focus solely on Minnesota sports. While most of our content is on our lively Twitter community, we'll also release occasional articles about the Vikings, Wild, Wolves, and Twins.
We're also excited to announce the Midweek Minnesota Sports Ramble Podcast, which is part of Erik Ritland isn't so Bad. The Wednesday show will cover the local sports teams in addition to big national stories.
Check out the latest Midweek Minnesota Sports Ramble podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and wherever else fine podcasts (and even this one) are found.
For our first article of Series Six, our Wild analyst Jeff Hartfiel goes over three keys to the Wild season and makes some predictions.
Here we are, another Wild season!
As many people know, the Wild didn't make a whole bunch of noise in the off-season. But they made a few moves, the biggest being firing Paul Fenton as GM and bringing in Bill Guerin. I was all for this move, and I am looking forward to seeing how Guerin takes on his new role as the man here in Minnesota. Hopefully they have the right GM this time around.
Three Keys to the Wild Season
1. Rebound years from key players
- Koivu is one year older and coming back from a pretty significant injury, so it is hard to see him coming out of the gate firing on all cylinders. He will definitely need to shake off some of the rust. Minimizing his minutes to start the season would benefit him the. Regardless, Koivu will still come out playing his game.
- Dumba will be coming out with a chip on his shoulder ready to go. I expect great things from him this year, possibly hitting close to the 30 goals, which I believe he was on pace for last year.
- Suter said he feels great and has no more lingering issues like he did last year. So in theory he should be back to well being Suter. Would like to see his minutes come down, though, especially on the power play.
- Zucker and Staal will come out hungry and with something to prove, especially Zucker. I can see Staal putting in at least 20 goals this season and Zucker coming close to 40, but I'll stick with low 30s for my official prediction.
2. Get the offense rolling
The Wild brought in Zucc hoping that maybe they can get from him what they got from Staal two years ago. I'm not convinced that this will be the case, but we'll see.
What the Wild need are five of their young guys to step up: Luke Kunin, Jordan Greenway, Kevin Fiala, Ryan Donato, and Joel Erickson Ek.
I'm still skeptical of Fiala. Yeah, we hear he has the tools, but he needs to start trusting his teammates and stop hot-dogging it.
Kunin is coming back after having an off-season where he didn't have to recover from an injury, so I believe he'll have a break-out season.
Hopefully, this will motivate Greenway to get his game going. He needs to play big and crash the net.
Donato came in last year shooting the puck, which he needs to continue to do, and I believe he will.
As for Ek, he needs to come in and work his way up the line and start shooting the puck more. I expect him to come in starving, not hungry, STARVING, giving Bruce no other choice but to move him up the lineup.
3. Defense and goaltending
I want to start with something to get it off my chest.
Yes, Dubby lets in soft goals at time, and yes, Dubby has a bad game here and there.
But he has not been the problem for the Wild. It's the team in front of him.
Every goalie lets in soft goals, every goalie has bad games. The difference is the team in front of the other goalies. The one thing the Wild have always lacked is consistency on both ends of ice. More so the offensive than the defensive, but that's beside the point.
The Wild have Suter back fully healthy, Dumba is back fully healthy, Spurgeon is probably the best all around defensive player the Wild have on both ends of the ice, and Brodin is, well, Brodin.
Seelers, Hunt, and Soucy are trending up, but I personally not a fan of Pateryn.
Our forwards need to step up on their defensive responsibilities and become better as well, especially the younger guys.
I'm all in on Bruce pulling another rabbit out of his hat and getting this team rolling.
I say that the Wild finish with at least 100 points and make playoffs
Additionally, Greenway, Kunin, Donato, and Ek all finish with 20+ points, with Donato closer to low to mid 40's
Here's to another Wild season!
Jeff Hartfiel is a Minnesota sports analyst specializing in the Wild and Vikings. He's been a part of Rambling On since 2018.