The Oilers are in Minnesota to take on the Wild tonight. The Wild have had a really tough time to start the season, having won just 2 of their eight games so far. Is there an end in sight? Will Minnesota rebound and start putting up some points? Is Brad Hunt really leading this team in scoring?
Managing Editor Ryan from SB Nation’s Hockey Wilderness has the answers to all my questions. At least, he has answers to the ones I asked.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.
Copper and Blue: The season is young, but the Wild have just two wins in their first eight contests. In eight games, the Wild have put up just 18 goals, or a little bit better than an average of two per game. That’s not great, but it’s not entirely terrible. On the flip side, they’re averaging four goals allowed per game. What’s the single biggest issue that the Wild haven’t been able to straighten out so far this season?
Ryan / HW: The Wild just seem to have a hard time being on the “right side” of the puck. When they generate offense, it’s typically of the low-danger variety, which obviously doesn’t translate to the scoresheet too well. The Wild are not a tic-tac-toe team. Bruce Boudreau has admitted as much. But by relying so much on scoring through traffic and getting the “greasy” goals, it’s not hard to see why they are struggling
Copper and Blue: Four-time Stanley Cup Champion Bill Guerin was named GM of the Wild in late August of this year. He replaces Paul Fenton, who was with the team for only about a year. Is there a good feeling about this hire? Is there a belief that Guerin can pick the team upfrom its disappointing last place finish in the Central Division?
Ryan / HW: People are already looking at Bill Guerin as the savior of this franchise. While this is his first shot at being a full-time GM, he’s been around (and helped construct) a juggernaut team in the past. Wild fans are really excited about Bill Guerin, and, to be honest, I think they should be
Copper and Blue: Former OIlers goaltender Devan Dubnyk has had a rocky start to the season. Is this a reason to be concerned, or will he battle out of a bad month?
Ryan / HWHis early struggles have definitely been a concern. Alex Stalock has only played in a couple games, but he’s performed well. The Wild needed to give Dubnyk fewer reps this season, which they appear to be following through on. Still, it honestly wouldn’t be the biggest shock if Stalock ends up with the better statistics this season.
Copper and Blue: Tell us about a player or a prospect that’s due for a breakout season for the Wild.
Ryan / HW: Luke Kunin has had some struggles of his own this season, but he really does seem to be turning a corner. He’s hugely relied upon on the penalty kill and is starting to become more noticeable at 5-on-5 as well. He definitely won’t put up point-per-game numbers, but he’s a player the Wild seem extremely high on.
Copper and Blue: Finally, is this a playoff team in 2019-20? Why, or why not?
Ryan / HW: Absolutely not. While the Wild look to be in decent shape on paper, the whole time has had a difficult time finding any chemistry on the ice. Bruce Boudreau seems to shuffle his lines every few minutes, which obviously doesn’t make things any easier. Minnesota is one of the oldest teams in the NHL, and it’s starting to show. Perhaps a winning streak or two could get the team back to playing consistently competitive hockey, but the entire team just looks out of sync at the moment.
Thanks to Ryan for his time.
Follow Ryan over at SB Nation’s Hockey Wilderness
or on Twitter @RP_Quigs