Willie Nelson wrote a song a couple of years ago titled “Still Not Dead,” and it included this passage: “I woke up still not dead again today; The news said I was gone to my dismay; Don’t bury me, I’ve got a show to play.”
This could become the official fight song for the Minnesota Wild. The epitaph was written when the St. Paul lads opened the season 1-6, while also playing six of the first seven on the road.
The home ice is well-known to be an important advantage. In the regular season. In the playoffs, it doesn’t mean diddly — and you can confirm that with the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the St. Louis Blues.
No matter. The Wild-ings already were entombed for the 2019-20 season by the time they were returned for a two-game home stay on Oct. 20, at least in the view of the expert commentary being heard from local hockey sages.
On Thursday, the arduous journey from a first-tier Minneapolis suburb to a locale a fellow named Sid used to refer to as “East Berlin’’ was made in order to be an eyewitness to this NHL train wreck.
Imagine the surprise that was found once the puck was dropped. There was a large, enthused gathering and the Wild took the play to Colorado.
The Wild had big chances to take the lead in the closing minutes of the first, and then scored two quick ones in the second: Mats Zuccarello at 1:48 on a power play, and Jordan Greenway 55 seconds later to make it 2-0.
Cale Makar came back with a pair of outstanding plays that led to goals late in the period. The buzz between periods was about the amazing potential of Makar, last season’s Hobey Baker winner for UMass.
The Wild-ings had given up a two-goal lead in 4½ minutes. They didn’t fade away. They came out skating with the Avs in third, and then Jason Zucker had the puck pop to him in a scramble, and he put it away for a 3-2 lead in the middle of the third period.
That became the final score, 3-2, only the second two-game winning streak in 22 games, and a win against a Central rival after starting 0-7 within the division.
And now, for all the early doomsaying, the Wild is 9-11-2. That means the record is 8-5-2 since Oct. 20.
If you want more evidence they aren’t dead yet, consider the home-road disparity: The Wild has played 14 of 22 games on the road. It is heading off on another three-game road trip and will play six of the next eight on the road.
When the Wild returns on Dec. 10 to play Anaheim, it will have played 30 games and 20 on the road. There are long homestands ahead and, if the crowds remain as large and lively as Thursday’s, that’s going to be a substantial advantage.
OK, the sellout streak is over, and the announced attendance of 17,574 was padded perhaps by a couple of thousand, but the alleged decline in interest in this team was not felt in the arena.
One guy who could get the populace talking could be Greenway. He’s 6-foot-6 and 225 (minimum), comes off as having personality, has a “meme’’ after his reaction to Thursday’s goal, and also a fine nickname:
The Big Rig.
Unfortunately, the rig was misfiring through the Wild’s first 14 games: no goals in a dozen of those, and two missed with injury. He finally scored a week ago against Arizona, and No. 2 came vs. the Avs.
Did Greenway get down during the six-week goal drought?
“Not really,’’ Greenway said. “I was still playing good hockey. I was doing a lot of good things; I couldn’t let one thing ruin that.’’
So you didn’t feel as if you were unlucky — jinxed by the goal goose egg?
“Maybe once or twice I did,’’ Greenway said. “Maybe I had to work even harder to get some luck. I think we have a lot of good things ahead of us.”
For sure, the Wild’s still not dead.