In what is becoming one of our new features, we're reaching out to the SBN blogs of our opponents on Game Day to get a sense of the match-up from the other side. Today, I posed three questions to Bryan Reynolds, who is one of the managing editors over at Hockey Wilderness. Without further ado...
1. Obviously, Parise is killing it in the early going. How much impact has he had on the rest of the offense, both in terms of his linemates and in terms of the other lines?
The impact has been huge for the top line, and for the team, but has not translated at all below the first line, if that makes sense. The Wild have been so terrible at scoring goals, that one guy doing so is a massive improvement. Dany Heatley probably feels like he is 24 again, and Mikko Koivu has got to love the upgrade from Andrew Brunette and Antti Miettinen just two years ago. Beyond that, the second through fourth lines have been non-existent when it comes to scoring. That has been the Achilles heel of the Wild so far this season.
2. How has Ryan Suter looked thus far, and what kind of effect has he had on the defensive unit overall?
In a word? Invisible, which is not good for your new $7.5 million a year d-man. He is struggling a bit with the system, which is understandable given no preseason and the fact that Mike Yeo is not Barry Trotz. However, there have been quite a few plain old "hockey sense" mistakes, and Suter is hearing about from the fans. People with patience figure he gets better, but the average hockey fan is not happy right now, and the pressure is only going to build. The impact on the defensive unit has been negligible, if not negative, but again, that looks to be system issues that hopefully get corrected. Soon.
3. Neither Wild goaltender has eye-popping numbers on paper. Are they victims of circumstance and rust, or is there concern in net for the Wild?
Honestly, I think there is some concern to be had, but they are also going to be victims not of rust, but of a d-corps that just isn't very good. Suter is supposed to be the lynch-pin, and hasn't been, Tom Gilbert has been mediocre at best, Jared Spurgeon is hurt, Clayton Stoner has been off and on, Justin Falk is terrible, and Nate Prosser lost his job to Jonas Brodin, who with one NHl game is the Wild's best defender right now. On top of that, Niklas Backstrom is getting older, his skills are slipping a bit, and Josh Harding has never had huge numbers. I truly believe that Chuck Fletcher is hoping that low cost goaltending (next year anyway) can be shored up by top flight defense, and right now, that just isn't happening.
Our thanks to Bryan for participating! Head over to the HW for their Game Day Coverage!