THE WILD WIRE - 11Dec 18, 2018
NO NEED TO PANIC
Coming back from a three-game road trip in Texas with just one (of a possible six) standings points is obviously not ideal.
However, you have to look at the big picture here.
The two games in San Antonio were played without Sam Anas, Cal O’Reilly and Matt Bartkowski. Yes, the Wild got Landon Ferraro back for those contests, but they were the veteran winger’s first games since Nov. 2.
Plus, forward Luke Kunin, who was playing his best hockey of the season (in my opinion), was recalled to Minnesota earlier in the week and missed all three games down south.
These are not excuses. This is the reality of pro hockey and more specifically, the American Hockey League. You can “survive” for a few games when you’re undermanned. Over the long haul though, you need your best players on the ice. The deep roster this team was boasting even just a few weeks ago is currently a shell of what it was.
Here’s what Coach Army had to say when I chatted with him about the importance of “staying the course” during the first real adversity of the season.
“We aren’t handling the momentum swings as well as we did (earlier in the season) and we’re getting a little bit rattled,” Army said. The first-year Wild bench boss went on to tell me the team has lost its collective focus and discipline when things haven’t gone well in recent games.
“I still like a lot of our game,” Army added. “We just have to be better in those momentum swings and we have to be disciplined when the momentum is away from us to regain it. It’s good to go through this.”
Coach Army then dropped this great one-liner he took from his former GM in Washington, George McPhee: “Adversity is the best teacher.”
Army went to say it’s a true test of the team’s character and the team will be better for it over the long haul. He also made sure to mention the team will be ready to go this weekend.
After traveling back from Texas yesterday, the team has a day off today. Practice resumes on Wednesday.
The Stockton Heat is the club’s opponent this weekend. They hold a record of 12-13-1-0 (25 pts.). The Heat play Wednesday at home then have to fly to Des Moines on Thursday. Puck drop is 7:00 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday.
MOTTE – BACK TO ALLEN
Goaltender C.J. Motte is headed back to the Allen Americans (ECHL), as veteran netminder Andrew Hammond is ready to return from injury.
Motte appeared in three games with the Wild, going 1-0-2. He was a great (depth) signing by the organization this past summer and he gave the team exactly what they needed while Hammond was out.
Hammond’s return couldn’t come at a more opportune time.
Out since the middle of November, Hammond will provide the Wild with a calming presence in net. For a team that has just one win over the last six games, getting Hammond back in net should be a nice boost.
A SHORT HOLIDAY SEASON
If I’m being honest here (and somewhat selfish), the Wild’s upcoming “holiday break” is brutal.
With a game this Saturday the 22nd at home and another tilt at Wells Fargo Arena on the 26th, the players and staff have basically no time off, if they’re planning on traveling, anyways.
For example, anyone other than the Minnesota-born players or a guy like Louie Belpedio (from Skokie, IL), would potentially have to fly to their respective homes on Sunday the 23rd and then have to return to Des Moines on Christmas day/night.
For some of the players who are young in their pro careers, it will certainly be an adjustment, especially if they have to spend Christmas away from their families.
I’m headed back to Philly in an attempt to enjoy about 60 hours with family and friends. Christmas morning is always exciting nowadays – with three boys ages 8, 6 and 4, there’s never a dull moment while we’re back East.
HOCKEY GONE WILD – TONIGHT
KXNO had a scheduling conflict, so our December episode of “Hockey Gone Wild” is going to air tonight at 6 pm.
I’m putting together the format and interview guests as we speak, so unfortunately, I can’t confirm much for you right now. However, a chat with Minnesota Wild GM Paul Fenton is confirmed.
But please tune in. It’s always fun to talk some puck for an hour.
- Wild Joe Radio