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Righting the ship

Where do the Wild go from here?

From a 3-9 record at the end of October, Minnesota are sitting at a game over .500 after a loss to Vancouver. That's a marked improvement, to say the least. They're still at the bottom ot the Northwest, but with 33 points they're not far behind the Oilers (with 34 points) or even the Canucks at 38. Are 11 points between the top and bottom (Colorado, with 44) so impossible to overcome?

The Wild may be at the bottom of the standings, but they have played their way back into at least a respectable season. They've won 7 out of their last 10, and pointwise have joined a pack of teams who are are struggling. In the West, St Louis only has 31 points, Columbus has 34, as do the Oilers and the Ducks. Vancouver and Dallas have 38 and even the best in the Converence only has 44 points. The East is worse, with 8 or 15 teams with fewer points than the Wild. If Minnesots were in the Atlantic, they would be third behind the Devils and the Penguins.

What changed since the beginning of the season? Work ethic. The team simply didn't seem to want to try very hard. Mikko Koivu has put on the 'C', things have gone a dofferent way. He has led from the front, being first in points ans assists, and second in goals. His +3 is third best on the team and fairly respectable on a team who seemed poised early to have to write off another season. Coach Richard and GM Chuck Fletcher seem to have made it clear to the players that it is their responsbility to win games, not theirs. All the staff can do is give the players the tools to play the game, but can't play it for them. The players have to want to win, and then have to go do it.

The message seems to have gotten through.

- Kevin Horner