Impressive January Helps Wild Brace for Tough Second Half

Minnesota Wild (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Minnesota Wild (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Wild were stellar in the month of January, vaulting into the top three in the Central Division, which is key, because the second half of the season for Minnesota will be challenging.

The Wild played ten games last month, earning points in nine of them. The only regulation loss came on New Year’s Day in the Winter Classic against the St. Louis Blues, and overall, the team posted an 8-1-1 record in the first month of the new calendar year.

February will also feature ten contests for the Wild, but after only two games in the first 11 days of the month, Minnesota will play every other day for the remainder of it. Fast forward to March, and the team will play 16 games, including three sets of back-to-backs.

April will yield 16 games as well for the Wild with four back-to-backs and six games in the final nine days of the regular season. If that second-half schedule doesn’t sound daunting, look at a calendar and tell me the visual doesn’t make you say, “yikes.”

The Wild’s strong positioning will be helpful down the stretch.

To put things in perspective, the Wild will be playing 16 games in each of March and April but will have played only 16 contests from December 12-February 12. In other words, it’ll be twice the number of games in the same amount of time.

That backloaded lineup of games is exactly why it’s so important that the Wild have won as many games as they have so far. The playoff race is tight in the Central Division, so this could be a head start that this team will need by the time the regular season is complete.

Of course, with postponements that have been brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota will not be the only team playing a lot of games in a short period of time. However, entering February, 28 teams have played more games than the Wild.

On the positive side, Minnesota ranks fifth in the NHL in point percentage, and despite the lack of games played, finds itself in third place in the Central. The Wild have really positioned themselves well moving forward this season, and that might be more critical to them than to any other team.

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The Wild will be a team to keep an eye on later in the season, because that tough stretch of games could not only make or break their chances of getting into the playoffs, but also what they are able to accomplish once they’re there. For now, Minnesota will look to keep piling up the points.