The Minnesota Wild currently sit at 13-9-1, a record that slots the team in at a disappointing fifth in the Central Division. This sounds like a negative at face value, but there’s a bit more to it. Thus far, Minnesota has been a better team than its record indicates, and we can probably expect an uptick in its points percentage over the rest of the season.
Boasting one of the deepest forward groups in the NHL, the Wild has become one of the league’s best puck possession teams. At 54.3%, Minnesota has the NHL’s second-best corsi for percentage (trailing only the Chicago Blackhawks, yearly corsi darlings). The Wild’s unremarkable win total doesn’t match how consistently it has outplayed opponents.
While it’s certainly fair to suggest that Minnesota has gotten a little unlucky, the future outlook still isn’t completely rosy. Picking up where it left off last season, the Wild has been a much worse team on the road than at home in 2014-15. If Minnesota makes the playoffs, it will almost certainly be as a bottom seed; the team will have to iron out its road woes if it hopes to take down the likes of Chicago or the St. Louis Blues in the first round.
Goaltending, viewed as the Wild’s biggest question mark heading into the season, has been more or less what most expected. Darcy Kuemper has shown flashes of big-time promise, but he looks like a slightly below average starter more often than not. Minnesota typically dominates possession, however, so it doesn’t necessarily need elite play in net to win games.
Overall, a C- seems just about right for the Wild’s play so far in 2014-15. The team is clearly better than its place in the standings suggests, but it’s hard to justify any higher grade than a C- with Minnesota standing on the wrong side of the playoff race.