Season on the brink? It is bad, but not historic - KMSP-TV


Season on the brink? It is bad, but not historic

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No question the Wild are in an early season rut. In a shortened season when the temperature is already running hot, their 4-5-1 start has them out of the playoff picture. How do you think Los Angeles feels about the Kings being in the basement? Probably a bad example, let's move along.

It reminds me of the start of the 1996-97 season for Pittsburgh. It was the first swan song for Mario Lemieux, and the Penguins loaded with offensive talent won just two of their first 11 games before rallying to capture the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. The squad had a November fire sale in hopes of sparking things including adding Darius Kasparaitis, the only player to successfully get under Super Mario's skin enough to goat him into a fight.

November 17 1996

Pittsburgh acquired Andreas Johansson and Kasparaitis for Bryan Smolinski

November 19, 1996

Pittsburgh acquired Stu Barnes and Jason Wolley for Chris Wells

November 19, 1996

Pittsburgh acquired Alex Hicks and Fredrik Olausson for Shawn Antoski and Dmitri Mironov

The Pens would go 21-3-4 over their next 28 games but would hit another swoon in February that cost head coach Eddie Johnston his job and saw GM Craig Patrick jump to the bench for the final 20 games.

So when is too early to push the panic button?

In a shortened season, the Wild have reached about the same point the Pens were in 1996. After a two-game road trip that saw the team score one goal in each game, the team came home against rival Vancouver and put up yet another one goal performance.

"It would have been a good chance for us to bounce back after not winning on the road trip but we didn't show up," said forward Zach Parise.

The Wild used their closed door players meeting following their loss to Phoenix and Ryan Suter, the other half of the off-season free agent coup put it simply.

"We came out slow and you can't afford to do that when things aren't going well."

After all the juggling of lines and swapping of pieces, the result was still the same. A lifeless start and a third straight one goal performance by a team that was expected to gain entry into the playoffs for the first time in four seasons.

Rookie forward Mikael Granlund was a healthy scratch and watched the game from the press box Thursday night after newly acquired forward Mike Rupp took his place on the fourth line. Granlund played the first eight games as the second line center before being dropped to the fourth line with Devin Setoguchi.

10 games in, the team is receiving no scoring from anybody outside of their top line and there are only two teams in the entire league that have scored fewer goals than the Wild's 22. (Colorado 21; Los Angeles 20)

That isn't going to get the job done.

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