Western Conference Outlook: Minnesota Wild


We continue our look around the Western Conference with an outlook on a Predators Central Division rival, the Minnesota Wild.

In case you missed it, we took a look at the St Louis Blues and predicted how the Predators will fare against them next season here.

The Wild A Year Ago

The Wild and Predators faced-off against one another five-times last season. The Predators found themselves with a 2-2-1 record against the Wild after winning the final game of the season series 7-3.

Minnesota finished the 2013-2014 regular season with a total of 98-points in the standings, making them the number-seven team in the Western Conference. The Wild’s season was good enough to grab the top wild card spot in the West.

Ryan Suter and the Wild found themselves matched up with the young and flashy Colorado Avalanche in the first-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The hot-pick at the start of the series was the Colorado Avalanche with their speedy forwards and goaltending in Semyon Varlamov; the Wild had different plans.

Minnesota found themselves trailing two-games to none after the first two-games played in the series which were played in Colorado. The Wild then returned the favor and won the next two-games in their home building. The home-ice winning trend continued the next two contests as well and the series was tied heading to Colorado for a game-seven showdown.

Game-seven was a back-and-forth , high-scoring affair that was knotted up at four goals a piece at the end of regulation. Headed into overtime, myself and I am sure many others thought the home-ice winning trend would continue but then this happened; courtesy of Nino Niederreiter:

After the incredible first-round series win over the Avalanche, Minnesota was eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks in the next-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in six-games.

The Wild’s regular-season scoring leader was forward Jason Pominville. Pominville lit-the-lamp 30-times last season and also added 30-assists to his name for a total of 60-points in 82-games. Minnesota’s playoff points leader was Zach Parise who tallied 14-points in 13-games.

Perhaps the most overlooked player for the Wild and perhaps the most overlooked player in the NHL last season was Wild goalie Josh Harding. Harding lead the league with his goals-allowed-average by just allowing 1.65 goals per game. Minnesota’s netminder also lead the league in the save-percentage category by stopping 644-shots out of the 690-shots he saw in his 29-games played for a .933 save percentage.

Wild Off-Season Moves

The Minnesota Wild have not been the loudest team this off-season when it comes to trades and signings.

Minnesota’s biggest addition this off-season was the signing of forward Thomas Vanek. Vanek started last season with the Buffalo Sabres, traded to the New York Islanders after 13-games, and was later traded to the Montreal Canadians. Vanek, in his 78 regular season games played last season, finished the year with 68-points (27G, 41A). Vanek, a right-wing, will of course slide into a top-six role for the Wild next season and gives them a very good scorer and good power-play guy as well.

Vanek is the lone ‘notable’ player added by the Wild this off-season. The Wild did however part ways with some key players. The two biggest losses the Wild suffered this off-season were forwards Matt Moulson and Dany Heatley. Moulson had 13-points in his 20-games with the Wild last season and Heatley had a somewhat slow season with just 28-points in 76-games.

The Wild also parted ways with forward Cody McCormick and defenseman Clayton Stoner.

Predators Predictions Against The Wild

In my opinion, each time the Predators and Wild face-off against one another we get to see the two best defensemen in the NHL; Shea Weber for the Predators and former Predator and now Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. So, each game at least has that going for it.

More from Predators News

The Wild, just like every other team in the Central Division, got better this off-sesaon (including the Predators). With that being said, none of us really know what to expect from the Predators other than solid defensive play and solid goaltending in Pekka Rinne. The Wild’s addition of Thomas Vanek should have a big impact to their offensive-game and they of course also have what looks to be a top-goalie on their side as well in Josh Harding.

Now, we will give you our predictions on how the new-look Predators will fare against the Minnesota Wild.

The Predators and Wild do not face-off until December 20th. This contest takes place in Minnesota and I see the Predators losing the first meeting against the Wild in Minnesota.

The next meeting also comes in Minnesota and is an afternoon game on January 10th. The Predators return to Minnesota and take home the three-points and the win in this revenge game.

Nashville hosts the Wild the next two contests, the first one being on national television via NBCSN. The Predators win the nationally televised contest at home in good-fashion but slip-up and take the loss via shootout in the next contest.

The next and last game of the season series also takes place at Bridgestone Arena, where the Predators win their last home game of the 2014-2015 season in fun-fashion via an overtime thriller.

Predlines prediction for the Predators vs Wild season series next season: Predators 3-1-1

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