PART 2: Who’s Who In The Western Conference: Performers and Pretenders

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 Minnesota Wild

 

Oct 10, 2013; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild teammates celebrate after beating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 3-2-2

Season Summary So Far: The Wild opened their season with hopes of being a team-to-beat, thanks to a move over to a fairly weak Central Division. Minnesota opened up their year with three straight losses, albeit two were in extra time. They finally got in the win column against the Winnipeg Jets, starting a 3-game win streak that ended when they took on the powerhouse Toronto Maple Leafs, losing 4-1. They currently sit 5th in the Central Division, and 8th in the Western Conference.

Strengths: Elite goal scorers, a premier shutdown defenseman, underrated goaltending, and a very adept, but lesser-known coach.

Weaknesses: Lack of depth all around, No. 2 goalie battling MS, injury-prone, young players pressured early.

The Real Deal?: We think so. Minnesota got back in the game with a playoff berth last season, and although they were dominated by the Chicago Blackhawks on the way to their first-round exit, they know what it takes to get to the post-season, and how they need to improve once they get there. Playoff-tested veterans need to step up and be consistent in the season, as this team has the chance to go sliding off the tracks if injuries or a tough stint in the schedule arise. Sophomore blue-liner Jonas Brodin needs to have a big year with even more responsibility on his shoulders, and Ryan Suter needs to be the man who was a Norris Trophy finalist again this year.

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