THE WILD WIRE - #10Dec 11, 2018
AS GUTSY AS IT GETS
In professional sports, it’s easy to overreact to certain things – a great play, a big-time mistake, a devastating loss, a key injury, etc. Same goes for a gut-check-type win.
If you’re looking for the mark of a good team, like a truly good team, then sometimes you have to read between the lines a bit.
If you are a casual fan of the AHL, you might have seen the box score from the Iowa Wild vs. Grand Rapids Griffins game on Saturday night. Final score: Iowa 5, Grand Rapids 2.
And if you saw that, you might just glance over it as a good game between two, Central Division rivals.
In my opinion, however, Saturday’s game meant way more than your run-of-the-mill, AHL regular season game for the Wild.
The Wild entered winless in their two previous games, having lost in regulation the night prior for the first time in the last 11 games. Veteran winger Kyle Rau was serving the second game of his two-game suspension. Team captain Cal O’Reilly was out and injured for the first time all season. Winger Sam Anas remained sidelined, ditto for Landon Ferraro, and for the first time all season, Iowa was down to just 11 healthy forwards.
At the second intermission, the game was tied 2-2.
In the third period, the Wild scored the only three goals to win the contest 5-2. The power play scored twice and the shots were 14-5 in the final period, favoring Iowa. The victory ended the Griffins nine-game point streak.
The Wild were missing more than 1,650 games of pro hockey experience from their lineup that night. They were playing a confidence-laden Griffins team. Yet, despite being undermanned, they found a way to earn two points at home and stay in first place in the Western Conference.
The win was a glowing example of the great depth this team has. It was also a true barometer for the character in the locker room as well. And, a reminder, that this is a very good hockey team.
ON THE INJURY FRONT
O’Reilly and Anas did not travel with the team to Texas. Ferraro and goaltender Andrew Hammond did, but neither is expected to suit up during the three-game road trip to the Lone Star State.
All four still need to be re-evaluated by the team’s medical staff/receive clearance before they get back into the lineup, but Ferraro and Hammond are skating, which is a good sign. O’Reilly is expected to do some on-ice conditioning towards the end of the week.
Keep in mind that if the Wild need a body (or more) this week, their ECHL affiliate is based out of Allen, Texas.
A (PAINFUL) TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE
Remember the 2014-12015 season? I know, I’ve tried to block it out as well.
That was Iowa’s second campaign, the one where head coach Kurt Kleinendorst was relieved of his duties after a 2-10-0-0 start. Well, that season, the Wild earned just 23 wins and 50 standings points, which was far-and-away the worst record in the league.
This year’s edition of the Wild already have 14 wins (in 25 games played). The 2014-2015 Wild registered their 14th win on January 17th, which was game number 39.
Just putting things in perspective for you a bit.
“WILD” SCORING STAT
Don’t ask me how, or why, I found this stat:
In their last eight games, the Wild have not had a scoreless period. Meaning, either Iowa or its opponent has scored at least once in each of the last 24 stanzas. The third period of the November 21st road game in Milwaukee was the last regulation period where neither team tallied.
LONG, LONE STAR ROADIE
The Wild have two “days off” on this trip, playing Wednesday, Friday and Sunday across Austin and San Antonio. With the weather expected to be in the 60s (don’t hate Des Moines, don’t hate), I’m sure the players will enjoy the time off. There is some practice time planned on the days with no games, but I’d be surprised if some of the players don’t try to get a little golf in, or spend some time outside, exploring the area.
As for me, I’m going to try and connect with my homeboy “Megaphone”. He’s originally from Philly, but he’s lived in Houston for a long time now. A mutual friend connected us about 10 years ago when I was working with the Houston Aeros. We still keep in touch and I’m hoping to chill with him on Saturday.
It took me years to figure out why he was nicknamed “Megaphone.” I’m not sure why I was so oblivious to the reasoning, considering he’s just a generally loud individual.
I’ve only added this to the blog since there seemed to be a favorable (dare I say, warm reaction) to my Star Wars movie rankings last week. Figured this would be another way to add something other than hockey talk to the blog. Keep the feedback coming, people.
But for now, I’m planning on enjoying some Tex-Mex and delicious BBQ with a few hockey games mixed in between.
- Wild Joe Radio