NHL Update: Wild continue to struggle during best ever season

With only a couple weeks of regular season left, the NHL and its fans are looking eagerly towards the playoffs. No other team is more ready, however, than the Minnesota Wild.

Through November, December and January the Wild have proven themselves one of the top teams in the League. Goalie Devan Dubnyk spent much of the year rated number one in the world and will likely be a Vezina Trophy finalist again this season.

The line of Jason Zucker, Mikku Koivu and Mikael Granlund has been one of the League’s most productive lines. Granlund is enjoying what many consider his breakout year, leading the team in goals (25), assists (41) and points (61).

Overall, the Wild have 11 players with at least 30 points, including defensemen. Head Coach Bruce Boudreau has won the division title of all of his previous eight seasons (formally with the Washington Capitals; Anaheim Ducks). In his first season with the Wild, the team has put up its most wins and points in its fewest number of games.

By the time of the All-Star break the Wild led the Central Division by at least 8 points and soon afterwards was within 1 point of the League lead.

Since the bye-week the Minnesota Wild have claimed one of the worst records, losing 8 of its last 9 on Sunday, Mar. 26. Coach Boudreau has labeled the entire situation “embarrassing,” especially after a franchise-record 12-game winning streak earlier in the season.

The Wild are now 10 points behind the League lead and 7 behind the Chicago Blackhawks for the Central Division title. Goalie Devan Dubnyk has lost all statistical standings and has been pulled twice in his last month of play.

With the playoffs looming, the Wild, one of seven teams to qualify the last four consecutive post-seasons, will make their fifth consecutive post-season run. On Saturday, Mar. 25, a Los Angeles Kings loss to the New York Rangers allowed the Wild to clinch their spot after losing 4-2 to Vancouver just hours before.

Some still argue the possibility of the Minnesota Wild winning the Stanley Cup Championship. They remain one of the top teams in the NHL despite their recent slump and have had playoff success in the past, though no further than the second round in their last four appearances.

Hopefully, having relieved the pressure of qualifying for the post-season, with Granlund’s year-long surge in scoring, with Eric Staal’s resurgence as a top line leader (tied with Granlund for goals at 25), and assuming Dubnyk returns to his earlier form, the Wild can pull themselves together again and prove themselves serious contenders for their first ever Stanley Cup title.