This time last year, the world was looking at Australia burning and starting to hear rumors about a possible virus spreading in the eastern world. Today, COVID has caused a worldwide pandemic and there’s a “world on fire” environment for fans of the Minnesota Wild.
Every NHL player and fan knew the risks coming in to the season. I don’t believe that anyone thought it would go without some flexibility required. Playoff games were all held in isolated bubbles to finish the season last year for both the NHL and the NBA.Unfortunately that wasn’t an option with a full slate of teams and season for either league this year. So far, the NBA hasn’t seen nearly as many individual cases or game cancellations as the NHL. With that being said, don’t let those scumbag basketball fans tell you this is a good thing. All that proves is the NBA stereotype of being a “me” league while Hockey and the NHL is a “we” league.
While the Wild aren’t the only team dealing with an outbreak in their facility, it does feel like a particularly rough gut punch. They’ve got the hottest rookie player in the league, already putting together an unreal first season. Kirill Kaprizov has been so impressive that he’s leading the charge for the Calder trophy. That’s not just the fan in me talking, for once. He’s LITERALLY the odds on favorite to win right now. This is the first time that Wild fans have had this much excitement behind a new player. Then our Soviet Savior not only meets but exceeds all expectations! The people want to see it while we can and we’ve already got a short season on our hands!Over the isolation period for the team, the Wild will miss out on at least 4 games. The first would be finishing the series against the rival Colorado Avalanche. After that, there’s two against the lowly Coyotes and the first game in a series against the Blues. Of course the Wild will miss out on two VERY winnable games against Arizona. You just KNOW Kaprizov would have pulled off one of the ludacris moves he’s been practicing in one of those.
It’s Not ALL Negatives
On the bright side, Minnesota needs a minute to get healthy…maybe a couple minutes. They were able to snag a win against Colorado in their Reverse Retro sweaters debut even with five players out. That may have been a result of the sweaters themselves, though. I think Deion Sanders said it best, “Look good, Feel Good. Feel Good, Play Good. Play good, Pay Good”. For the record, they’re undefeated in Green and Gold…just saying.
But It’s Pretty Negative
Unfortunately, but predictably, the Wild fell in their next game which was missing some of the same team depth. Defenseman and slap-shot specialist Matt Dumba was added to IR on top of that, which is helping Sean Walker sleep at night.
Marcus “Typhoid Mary” Foligno was the first positive test on the team. That nickname needs some workshopping, but I think it’s got staying power moving forward. Since Foligno’s addition to the COVID List, team captain Jared Spurgeon and goal leader Joel Eriksson Ek along with Nick Bonino, Marcus Johansso and Nick Bjugstad have all been added. At the time of this writing, Russo just mentioned that Nico Sturm has been added to the list. Even if the Wild were somehow allowed to play with these people absent, I’m not sure anyone would want them to. I mean seriously, who the fuck would play Center? We’re missing all of our Centers except Victor Rask and uhhh… Yeah.Marco Rossi has yet to make his debut with the team after being secured with a first round draft pick. He’s been listed as out with an upper body injury all season. Now he’s is back in Austria recovering from complications due to COVID. With so many athletes being asymptomatic or fully recovering, it’s strange to hear about his ongoing issues and difficult recovery. Obviously, we hope nothing but the best and a full recovery for Rossi.
Alex Stalock is yet another important piece who has yet to suit up for the team for the same reason. (editor’s note: while the NHL did mention that Stalock was out due to COVID protocol, however it’s unclear if that’s why he’s missing the full season.) Thankfully, rookie netminder Kaapo “Big Kahk” Kähkönen has been solid between the pipes. He’s suited up more than expected so far due to Talbot’s injury, but looked good once he got in rhythm.
Hungry for More
In a season where the Timberwolves are even more abysmal than usual and the Wild have so much potential, it’s hard to see games removed from the calendar. Even if the expectation is that they’ll be made up at a later date, we’re in the bowels of hockey season in MN and we’re HUNGRY. Lets face it, even at a record of 6-5, it feels as though the Wild are ROLLING and they’ve got a chance in every single game for the first time since the ’16-’17 season. If they can come back firing on all cylinders, or at least maintain this pace, we’ll be in a really good place for the remainder of the season.
Hockey fans from the state don’t have to go cold-turkey. Four of the top six college teams in the country are from Minnesota, and they’ve all got games this weekend. Those teams have EIGHT players nominated for the Hobey Baker award, so there’s clearly talent to be seen. Haters will say that winning the award doesn’t mean you’re an NHL-caliber player, but Cale Makar and his Calder trophy would beg to differ.
I’ve been hit by cars three times, which is an indication of how stubborn I am.
I write about everything across the board, but focus on Hockey and the pain that is Minnesota sports.
Argue with me on Twitter: @venividiveech