THE WILD WIRE - #19Feb 26, 2019
MAKE OR BREAK
With 21 games remaining in the regular season, every game is crucial. That’s not exactly “breaking news” but let’s just keep it real here for a second.
In a playoff race that’s highly contested, any slip up for even a small stretch of games can be extremely detrimental. For example, take last year’s version of the Iowa Wild, who sat at 26-17-7-4 (63 pts.) after 54 games exactly one calendar year from today. That team was in fourth place, which, at the time, was good enough for the final playoff spot in the Central Division.
This year’s squad (through 55 games) is 28-16-6-5 (67 pts.). Crazy how similar the records are, to be honest.
Eventually last year’s team, which in fairness, became partially decimated by injuries and call-ups, hit a nine-game skid from March 18 – April 6, a brutal 0-7-1-1 stretch which featured a healthy combination of one-sided defeats (five times where they allowed five or more goals) and gut-wrenching losses (three by one goal).
So, my apologies in advance if each week I reference the magnitude of the games on the horizon.
HOWEVER, this six-game road trip for the Wild is absolutely critical to staying in the playoff race.
Entering play today, the Wild sit fourth in the Western Conference. On this trip, they’ll play the other four teams which round out the Conference’s top-five:
- Grand Rapids Griffins – 1st
- Chicago Wolves – 2nd
- Bakersfield Condors – 3rd
- San Jose Barracuda – 5th
The only team not in a playoff spot which Iowa squares off against is the Ontario Reign, but they are a respectable team at home, with points in 14 of their 26 games at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
When the team returns back from this trip, which officially starts tonight in San Jose, there are just 15 games left, nine of which are at home, where the team has just five regulation losses all season.
Get through this six-game swing with around eight points (out of a possible 12) and the Wild should able to reset before making one final push towards their first-ever playoff appearance.
“THE PROCESSOR” EFFECT
Here’s your stat of the day:
With veteran Nate Prosser in the lineup this season, Iowa is 6-0-2-2. That’s right, they have points in all 10 games he’s played – the two November contests where he was assigned to the AHL club on a conditioning stint, plus the eight games since he cleared NHL waivers.
Yesterday was the trade deadline in the NHL and it certainly didn’t just pass on by without a flurry of activity.
Minnesota made two moves, plus they agreed to a contract extension with veteran center Eric Staal.
Here’s a link to the Trade Tracker in case you need to get caught up.
I’m sure it’s a somewhat anxiety-filled day for a lot of players, especially those that saw their names churned through the rumor mill in recent weeks.
The biggest trade made by the Wild sent Mikael Granlund to Nashville. I got to know “Granny” pretty well during the 2012 NHL lockout since he played in Houston (AHL) for part of that season.
He’s a great kid – really humble – and obviously, he possesses a ton of skill. Good luck to him in Nashville.
On the flip side, it will be exciting to see what Kevin Fiala can do in the “State of Hockey.” He’s a great skater and he boasts an outstanding skill set as well. Fiala is nearing 100 career NHL points and he’s just 22 years of age. Saw him a bunch when he was with the Milwaukee Admirals and he was always a handful to try and slow down!
Here’s a link to an old-school video of Granlund filmed out at the practice rink in Sugar Land, TX circa 2012.
Stick tap to one-time staff member Josh Fisher on this one – he shot the footage and produced the video.
It will be a while until the Wild return back to Des Moines – hope all of you can tune in to 1460 KXNO, AHL TV and Facebook Live (for Friday’s game vs. Bakersfield) at some point during the road trip to stay up-to-date on the club’s push for a playoff berth.
- Wild Joe Radio