Does the Minnesota Wild remind you of anyone?
Like, say, the Montreal Canadiens championship clubs of the ‘70s – big, fast and defense-oriented.
Well, they should.
That’s because Wild GM Doug Risebrough and coach Jacques Lemaire were key members of the Habs teams that dominated by taking care of business in their own zone first and then grinding the opposition into the ice with their blazing speed.
The Wild, this season, are making its mark with similar traits.
It is no fluke.
Two weeks ago Risebrough told The Hockey News he purposely looks for speed in the draft and with the way the game has changed, it looks like a pretty good strategy.
When the Wild beat the defending-champion Anaheim Ducks 5-2 Jan. 30, it was its speed and attention to defensive detail that befuddled Anaheim.
Here is this week’s THN Power Rankings:
Goals in four straight games have helped Henrik Zetterberg move into a tie for third in NHL scoring. By the way, he is tied with Jarome Iginla and teammate Pavel Datsyuk.
Hardly anybody outside of Dallas talks about the Stars, but very quietly they have risen to third overall in the NHL playing solid ‘D.’
Mike Knuble scores all three goals for the Flyers in a 3-0 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.
Marian Gaborik continues to emerge as one of the best players in the NHL with three goals in his past two games. And he’s plus-6 in the past three.
Things were going along swimmingly until the Canadiens blew a 3-0 lead and lost to the Rangers at home Sunday.
Evgeni Malkin has five goals and nine points in the six games Sidney Crosby has been out with his high ankle sprain.
Psst. Hey Teemu, please hurry and get back into the lineup. The Ducks need you - big time!
No Heatley…no Alfredsson…no Phillips…no wins. The Sens are sinking and with each loss, goalie Ray Emery’s antics become more of a distraction. He had a chance to get back in his team’s good books, but lost in Toronto Saturday.
Make that four goals in three games for Jonathan Cheechoo, who is rebounding nicely from an awful start. The Sharks, though, have just five wins in their last 10 games.
Colin White, of all people, gets a goal and an assist in the Devils’ 6-3 win over the Kings.
Owen Nolan scores three goals – and gets into a fight – in Calgary’s 5-4 win over San Jose.
After scoring just one goal in 18 games, Ben Guite fires two in a 6-4 win over the Blues.
How good are the Bruins? Good enough to jump into a 1-0 lead against the NHL-leading Red Wings. But not good enough to hold on for the win. Call it a work in progress.
They just may be the NHL’s most anonymous team, but the Predators are moving in the right direction with just two regulation losses in their last 10 games.
Three straight wins including a huge 5-3 come-from-behind victory over the Canadiens in Montreal after falling behind 3-0.
With 14 points in his last 11 games, Peter Mueller has thrown himself into the race for rookie of the year.
Three straight losses including a pair to bottom-feeders Tampa Bay and Florida have the Canucks in a freefall.
In one of the great performances of the year, Alex Ovechkin broke his nose, received stitches to close a cut in his lip, but still managed to score four goals and an assist in the Caps’ 5-4 win over Montreal.
Just when it looked like the Blue Jackets were for real, they lose three in a row.
With all eyes on Marian Hossa to see if he’ll sign a contract extension or be traded, has anybody noticed Slava Kozlov – coming off seasons of 80 and 71 points – had just 28 points through 55 games?
After going goalless and minus-7 in 23 games with Chicago, veteran Sergei Samsonov has come to life with Carolina scoring four goals and going plus-5 in 11 games.
While they remain in contention for a playoff spot, four straight losses, during which they were outscored 16-5, has the Islanders slipping toward a lottery pick in the draft.
Too bad this team couldn’t just go straight to the shootout. The Oilers have 12 victories in the skills competition this season.
The Blues are one of the great comeback stories this season, but three wins in 10 games won’t get them into the playoffs.
Still last overall…still winning more then they lose of late. With a high draft pick, this team could be in for a Flyers-esque turnaround next season.
Has the bubble burst? It would appear so as the young Hawks have dropped four straight.
Future captain Derek Roy has eight points in four games as the Sabres slowly come back to life.
Jiri Tlusty looks right at home playing on the Maple Leafs’ top line with Mats Sundin.
After going seven games without a goal, Vinny Prospal scores in three straight games.
Guess all that remains to be seen is where Olli Jokinen will end up at the trade deadline.
The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 on Mondays. Changes in rankings reflect each team’s play from the previous seven days.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.