Wild

Minnesota Wild teammates celebrate after Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise (11) scores a second period goal against the Ottawa Senators Friday, Nov. 29, at Xcel Energy Center. Harrison Barden / USA TODAY Sports

SUNRISE, Fla. -- It seems like just yesterday that pretty much everyone left the Minnesota Wild for dead.

Who could blame them? After a 1-6-0 start, the Wild found themselves floundering at or near the bottom of the NHL standings.

It started to turn during a 10-day trip to the West Coast last month. While the wins weren’t exactly piling up, there were patches of solid play that coach Bruce Boudreau did his best to illuminate.

Those patches of solid play paved the way for sustained stretches of even better play, and a few weeks later, the Wild have parlayed that into an impressive 10-game point streak.

Suddenly, the Wild (13-11-4) are the hottest team in the league not named the Boston Bruins (20-3-5).

It raises the question: Which players are most responsible for this 10-game point streak?

Let’s take a look.

5. Joel Eriksson Ek

It’s hard to quantify how important Ek has been over the past few weeks, namely because he still isn’t finding the back of the net. He hasn’t been much of an offensive threat during the point streak, recording zero goals and five assists, but the 22-year-old Swede has been an absolute menace on the defensive end. He gets matched up against the opposing team’s best player every night and usually shuts him down. While that stuff goes unnoticed in the boxscore, his teammates understand how much that matters.

4. Ryan Suter

Suter’s impact, like Eriksson Ek’s, has gone relatively unnoticed because he’s not whistling home shots from the point. He has been respectable on offense, recording one goal and six assists during the point streak, but he has made the biggest impact by thanklessly logging 26 minutes, 23 seconds per game and serving as been a stabilizing force on the back end. He rarely gets flustered in any circumstance, breaking up odd-man rushes with relative ease. His ability to lead the rush on the power play has made a big difference, too.

3. Kevin Fiala

If Fiala hasn’t been the most important player of the point streak, he’s certainly been the most intriguing. He’s shown flashes of brilliance lately, looking very much like the the game-breaker former general manager Paul Fenton thought he could be. He has three goals and five assists during the point streak and is brimming with confidence. He looks like a completely different player compared to earlier this season when he was a healthy scratch twice.

2. Alex Stalock

The backup goalie saw an opportunity and made the most of it, and in doing so, has lifted the Wild back into playoff contention. While he hasn’t started every game of the point streak, he has been a brick wall when he has stepped between the pipes. He boasts a 4-0-2 record over the past few weeks and has injected some life into the Wild with his entertaining play. It’s unclear if Stalock can keep this up for the rest of the season, namely because he’s been a career backup to this point. But the Wild certainly will take what they can get from him right now.

1. Zach Parise

After missing a potential game-tying goal against the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 7, and looking devastated afterward, Parise has completely turned things around. Not only has he been the hottest player on the Wild, he’s been on of the hottest players in the entire league. He eight goals and three assists during the point streak and has made an impact on both ends every night. That’s exactly what the Wild need out of their $98 million man. As much as that contract has been a lightning rod for criticism, Parise has been worth every penny during the streak.

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