We are 30 games into the season and the Wild are 14-12-4.
At the beginning of the season, I predicted that Bruce would have this team rolling on all cylinders and the team would finish with 100+ points and make the playoffs.
As you can see by their record, they are not near that pace. Although they did just have a great stretch of games, including and a five-game winning streak before their bad loss to the Hurricanes on Saturday
The Wild's Slow Start Turns Around: Parise, Suter, and More Step Up
The Wild got off to a very slow start in all phases of the game. Offense was poor, goaltending was poorer, and the defense was porous.
Over the last month you have seen things take a 180 degree turn in the right direction, and Parise is one of the biggest reasons for it. He has found his game and is scoring consistently.
But he isn't the only reason for the recent success of the Wild.
Suter also seems to be back to form, playing great on his side of the ice. His average of 26 minutes a game might increase a little more now that Spurgeon is out with a broken hand. Bruce needs to find a good partner to play alongside Suter besides Dumba, because that pairing doesn't seem to mesh well.
Brodin remains consistent, which isn't surprising.
Dumba has been solid defensively for the most part, but has not produced on the offensive side as predicted, which is slightly disappointing. Hopefully it comes back soon, because Wild could use him.
I was also expecting a little more offensively from Hunt, but at least he is playing pretty well on the defensive end of the ice.
Soucy has been very pleasant surprise both offensively and defensively. He uses his big frame to his advantage and remains responsible on both ends. I personally love his game and hope he remains a fixture in the line up.
Surprising Offensive Surge and Line Assessment
While Parise is the main catalyst, he isn't the only one contributing on the offensive side.
The GEEK line has been an important part to the teams success. They seem to be meshing very well together. Their forecheck is the biggest part of their success. Greenway has been using his massive frame and Joel Ek has been a pest, often getting under the skin of the other teams top line. Kunin is also playing soundly on both ends of the ice. It's safe to say this is the Wild's best line as of now.
The top line of Stall-Zucker-Zuccarello has been producing, which has been very nice given the slow start they got off to. Hopefully it continues and they can produce like a top line should.
Other Random Notes
Losing Koivu will hurt. It will be interesting to see who Bruce will play alongside Parise. My vote would be Sturm over Rask. His game replicates Koivu's the closest and in theory should slide in nicely next to Parise.
Donato needs to remain on the wing. His game at center is non existent. He is also off to a very slow start, well behind my prediction. He came in last year hot and it hasn't carried over. Unless he finds his game again, that trade was all for nothing.
Fiala seems to be coming around and finally trusting the team around him. Hopefully that trend continues.
I was overly optimistic at the beginning of the season. Call it blind faith.
As of now, I'm fifty fifty. As much as I would love to see the Wild succeed and propel themselves into the playoffs, I wouldn't mind seeing them tank and get a better draft pick, something they haven't had in sometime.
It will also be interesting to see what Bill Guerin does. I am intrigued to see what his has in mind.
Here's too another up and down 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.