WILD: FIRST-HALF EVALUATION
Jared Spurgeon: No sophomore slump with the little guy. At 22, he's the Wild's No. 1 defenseman. Leads the blue-liners with 15 points, is on the No. 1 power play and averages 21 minutes of playing time a game.
Goaltending: A large reason for the Wild's sixth-best goals-against average in the NHL is the play of goalies Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding. When the Wild was hot earlier this season, it was routinely holding opponents to two goals or fewer and rarely let a one-goal deficit grow.
The evolution of Brodziak and Clutterbuck: For the first time, the Wild is developing secondary on- and off-ice leadership with 20-somethings Kyle Brodziak and Cal Clutterbuck. Brodziak, a potential free agent, has scored 11 goals, and Clutterbuck leads the league with four shorthanded goals.
Mike Yeo: The rookie coach has shown to be a good motivator, good in-game bench manager and has terrific communication skills. For a while, he was pushing all the right buttons.
Guillaume Latendresse: He just can't stay healthy. After playing 11 games last season, he has been limited to 16 this season because of concussions.
Greg Zanon/Marek Zidlicky: Once a relied-upon defense pair, but now Zanon's speed has become an issue and he's often a scratch. And Zidlicky has been erratic and has no goals -- unacceptable for a $4 million power-play specialist.
Injuries: The Wild lost 147 man-games to injury in 41 games. It dressed 35 players and doesn't have the depth to overcome injuries to top-six forwards.
Power play: Another mess, it ranks 22nd in the NHL. Whether it's scheme or personnel deployment, the power play lately is costing the Wild victories.