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Where the Wild are

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Even if Gary Bettman was spinning the stats, there’s no way to put a shine on the fact Martin Havlat has just four goals this year.

But we’ll take a half-full approach here and point out Havlat does have five points over his past two games, doubling his goal output in that time and bringing his point total to 16 in 26 games.

More importantly, the state of hockey is finally improving in the State of Hockey after a rough start for the new coach-GM tandem of Todd Richards and Chuck Fletcher.

The Wild have points in nine of its past 11 games, clawing to within five points of a playoff spot. The team can always count on top-notch goaltending from Niklas Backstrom, while the top line of Mikko Koivu between Antti Miettinen and Andrew Brunette has been terrific.

When asked whether they would look into getting Brunette a Finnish passport so he could join them at the Olympics, Miettinen and Koivu responded in the funny style we’ve come to expect from the witty Finns.

“No chance,” Koivu said. “First he has to come to Finland.”

“Yeah, it’s tough to be a Finn; we don’t just take anybody,” added Miettinen.

I guess they really don’t allow Brunettes in Scandinavia.

RK.

TEAM

LW

OVERALL

L10

THE SCOOP

1

2

22-8-1

8-2-0

Niclas Bergfors has 11 goals; John Tavares is the only rookie with more

2

1

20-7-6

7-2-1

Mike Green is on pace to top the 73 points he had last year, but is in line for about half as many goals

3

9

21-10-3

8-1-1

Four of their past seven wins have come in extra time

4

5

22-10-1

7-2-1

Sidney Crosby has 20 goals this season, but no other Pen has 10

5

2

19-8-7

4-3-3

Five guys in the league have 20 or more goals and the Sharks, with Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley, have two of them

6

8

19-9-2

7-3-0

Tyler Myers might just be the top Calder candidate right now

7

4

20-8-3

6-3-1

Three of Antti Niemi's six wins this year have come via the shutout

8

15

19-10-6

5-3-2

Some strong play from backup Peter Budaj bodes well for the Avs

9

6

19-9-4

6-3-1

Coughed up the division lead to Colorado thanks to a head-to-head loss against the Avs that concluded a 1-2-1 week

10

12

19-11-2

7-3-0

If Ryan Miller wasn't playing the way he is, people might be calling Ilya Bryzgalov the best stopper in the league right now

11

7

16-9-6

7-1-2

Tuukka Rask is making a serious case for the starting job with a .932 save percentage and a 1.97 goals-against average

12

10

18-11-3

5-3-2

Nashville has the 26th-ranked power play in the league and the club, always in need of an extra goal, is 13-1-1 when it gets a man-advantage marker

13

14

14-8-10

4-2-4

Dallas has lost more extra-time games (10) than any other team

14

17

16-11-5

5-4-1

Todd Bertuzzi doubled his season output from four to eight goals with consecutive two-goal efforts his last two times out. He also scored the OT-winner in both contests

15

13

18-14-0

6-4-0

Both the coach and GM have called this team out recently; let's see how the players respond

16

18

16-11-4

4-5-1

Milan Michalek could hit 40 goals this year

17

11

16-11-3

6-4-0

Went 1-3-0 last week, all against Canadian teams. Just a hot string of goalies or are the Thrashers coming back down to earth?

18

20

15-14-3

7-2-1

Brent Burns is struggling with a concussion right now, but the Wild is 8-2-1 since he left the lineup

19

24

11-14-7

7-3-0

Their 34.1 shots-per-game average is tops in the league and their 2.91 goals-per-game is ninth

20

28

15-13-4

6-3-1

Won five straight on the same road trip for the first time in team history – and it's quite a history

21

25

15-15-3

4-4-2

Should see Brian Gionta back soon and Andrei Markov, initially expected out until almost February, is ahead of schedule and could return in the next couple weeks

22

22

12-13-7

4-6-0

Played 20 of their first 32 games on the road, but are home for seven of 10 through the rest of December

23

16

13-12-5

5-4-1

Erik Johnson is great, but the fact he leads this team in scoring is not a good thing

24

29

12-13-7

4-2-4

Showing some signs of life with at least a point in their past five games

25

26

12-14-7

2-5-3

Steven Reinprecht is on pace for a career-high 61 points

26

27

14-12-6

2-5-3

Steve Mason has his first shutout of the year; only nine more to equal last year's total

27

23

14-15-1

2-8-0

GM Paul Holmgren already changed coaches, which means the next moves could involve players if things don't turn around

28

19

14-15-2

3-6-1

This team was 7-1 on Oct. 18; since then they're 7-14-2 with just five regulation wins in 23 games

29

21

11-12-9

2-6-2

Lost four straight, managing just three goals over that span

30

30

7-19-6

2-7-1

Jiri Tlusty, 21, scored on his first shift as a Hurricane on Friday, but was still sent back to the American League on Sunday

The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.

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