After losing seven straight and starting with a 5-10-4 record, the Minnesota Wild decided to fire their head coach Dean Evason and replace him with John Hynes. In their first game with their new bench boss on Tuesday, the Wild defeated their divisional rival, the St. Louis Blues, by a score of 3-1.
Having won just three games in November, the Wild hope that their decision to change coaches a quarter into the season will help fuel a climb in the Western Conference standings and get them in a playoff race.
Beyond the top teams in the West like the Colorado Avalanche, the Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights, there’s a mushy middle that leaves plenty of opportunity for teams like the Wild to punch their ticket to the post-season dance.
On Thursday’s episode of Daily Faceoff LIVE, Frank Seravalli and Tyler Yaremchuk discuss the Wild’s outlook after firing Evason, and whether they can string together enough wins to get out of the Central Division basement.
Tyler Yaremchuk: When you look at the collection of what we could call mediocre hockey teams, like the St. Louis Blues, the Nashville Predators, the Arizona Coyotes and the Minnesota Wild, is there one that stands out and actually has a shot at being a playoff team?
Frank Seravalli: Yeah, the Wild. I think they’re going to be the team that gets in. I don’t think the Blues or Predators are really “dying” to get in. That’s not to say they wouldn’t want to, but when it comes to the NHL trade deadline and the overall 30,000-foot view of the season, if the Blues and Predators are being offered strong prices for pieces on their roster, they’re going to be moving them.
I look at the Wild and think “that’s why they made the coaching change,” because they see the door cracked wide open. Most seasons, with the record they have, you’re almost as good as dead. The Wild, much like the Edmonton Oilers in the Pacific Division, have this ability to get back into the mix. All you have to do is beat these other teams in the mushy middle and get to 93, 94 points, and you’re in.
You can listen to the full segment and the rest of the episode here…