Entering March, the Minnesota Wild was one of the hottest teams in hockey, but the term “March Madness” applies to other sports. The Madness began a little before March though, more like February 28. An outbreak of the Mumps made its way around the locker room, affecting wingers Zach Parise and Jason Pominville, ultimately forcing them to miss a couple of games. A day later, defender Matt Dumba and new acquired centreman Martin Hanzel became sick and were dealt to miss a few games. It did not stop there; even the Wild’s assistant coach Scott Stevens caught the Mumps as well. Combine that with sloppy play and tired legs, and you get a 2-8 overall record in the month of March.
It is crazy how much can change in a month. On February 18, Minnesota was leading the Central Division by nine points, but just a month later, the Chicago Blackhawks have leap-frogged the Wild and took a five point lead. For Wild fans, this is not the first time they have have seen the team have a bad month. The previous three seasons, the Wild made it a tradition to have either a dismal December or January. Last season’s slump eventually cost former Wild and current St. Louis Blues head coach, Mike Yeo, his job. Each of those slumps caused Minnesota to have the wild card spot and forced them to play the higher seed in the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 playoffs.
Until now though, the Wild have built a comfortable enough cushion that they will most likely have home ice advantage with an 11 point lead. That is why fans are so hopeful that this is the year Minnesota can finally break the seal and beat Chicago in the playoffs. The Blackhawks have beat the Wild in the playoffs in 3 of the past 4 post seasons, but this Minnesota team is the deepest roster the team has had yet. With head coach Bruce Boudreau searching for his first Cup, and stars Eric Staal, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter getting old, now is the time for the Wild to win a Stanley cup for the State of Hockey. With 14 games remaining, Wild fans must be feeling the excitement of home ice advantage in the playoffs, but also the uncertainty of what team will show up.
The question is, what Wild team will show up? The one who dominated November to February, or the team who has completely lost all its mojo in March?