Michael Russo Thinks Wild Have Lost Their Mojo Entering Playoffs

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The Minnesota Wild will play in Dallas against the Stars on Monday to open the 2023 NHL Playoffs and they are far from full strength. Kirill Kaprizov will play in his third game returning from injury but the Wild will open the postseason without Joel Eriksson Ek, who skated for the first time on Saturday, since being injured in early April. The Wild will have to make do without Ek for at least most of the 1st round.

Michael Russo worried about Minnesota Wild entering playoffs

And that is worrisome for many who know this team, and have watched every moment of every game this season multiple times through. Like Michael Russo (The Athletic), who told Dan Barreiro on KFAN Friday that he is concerned about Minnesota’s chances vs Dallas, who he believes is one of the hottest teams in the league.

“I’m not quick to just discount [the Wild’s recent slump] like those inside the organization seem to be poo-pooing it. I’m concerned. I think that they have lost their mojo. They, for some bizarre reason — with the conference on the line and that’s what concerns me the most — they went to Vegas, after that huge win in Colorado. They were there for four days and I feel like they took their foot off the gas and haven’t been able to catch up ever since.”

Michael Russo on KFAN Radio
Have Wild lost their mojo?

Russo thinks the Wild lost their mojo when they lost two-straight games to the Las Vegas Golden Knights on April 1 and April 3. Then, they lost Ek to injury on April 6 vs the Penguins. All three games were also losses. That’s a lot of L’s.

It’s difficult to argue with Russo’s logic. He goes on to talk about his concerns for how poorly Mats Zuccarello is playing, how beat up the Wild are and how hot the rest of the Western Conference is.

“What concerns me is, and I get why the Wild have sat a bunch of their players over the last couple games, but what concerns me is, not only did you lose your game, but now could you have lost your cohesion because a lot of these guys haven’t won a lot of games together in the last little while?

Kaprizov missed 13 games and has only played two games since. Mats Zuccarello, I’m very concerned about. This is somebody that I think has had a very subpar second half and that’s dating back to before Kaprizov was hurt. Kaprizov gets back in the lineup and I didn’t see a lot of improvement in his game.”

“The fact is Vegas is on fire, Edmonton is on fire, Colorado is on fire and Dallas is on fire.”

Michael Russo on KFAN Radio

Obviously, the Minnesota Wild could hit the ice on Monday night and look like they did when they went on a hot streak for two months after the All-Star break. Or, they could find their skates in game three upon return to St. Paul and never look back.

But when someone as plugged in and knowledgeable — not just about the game of hockey and the NHL but about of the Minnesota Wild specifically — is worried about how this team is playing, entering the postseason… then I am too.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan