First of all, it's not goaltending. Manny is the man despite a bad spell when the rest of the team sucked in December. He's kept us in games we didn't deserve to be in and stolen a few, especially shoot-outs. Backstrom has been good.
Secondly, it's not scoring. We've got plenty of offensively dynamic players. Rolston, Bouchard, White and Parrish have provided what we've expected. Gaborik (via long injury lay-off) and Demitra haven't pulled their weight. Despite this, they're bone fida stars and should get us in the playoffs. Koivu has been a pleasant surprise.
On paper, our defensive corps is the best we've ever had. While our d-crew hasn't been that great, I don't see how we could improve it. Mainly, we don't have the salary cap room to bring in a proven D-man to solidify things. The guys we could afford wouldn't be better than somebody we could promote from Houston. Mainly, getting everyone healthy would be a great start.
So ... what's left?
We haven't got any ... that play regularly. Walz and Vielleux aren't, but they're our defensive shutdown guys. Boogaard will do his seek and destroy routine, but Lemaire rarely let's him do it. Dupuis will hit, but he's not big enough to have any effect. Wyatt Smith works hard and seems defensively responsible, but doesn't hit much. Radivojevic was supposed to be a tough banger, but he doesn't hit much, either and I haven't seen him do anything that would lead me to believe he's tough.
So that leaves Dupuis, Radio and Smith. DuPoop is in the sales window at deep discount. We can't get rid of Radio because we recently signed him. If someone were to want to make a deal for him, I'm sure that Risebrough would go for it. Smith has been decent, so why not play him on the defensive line with Walz and Vielleux? So it looks like if we can get rid of DuPoop, we could bring in one banger like Ward. With all the injuries, maybe we should give Irmen a shot?
Who in Houston has been doing a good job of playing physical, annoying, in-their-face type hockey? Ward? Irmen? Foy?
What are the chances of a Smith-Boogaard-Ward line or a Smith-Irmen-Ward line for the Wild? Any other options?
i also havnt seen dupuis hit anyone besides a stick check but i only get to catch a few games here and there
DuPoop actually hits quite a lot. But when a guy is 5'10" and 170 lbs. (the Wild list him as 6' & 195 lbs. ... but listed Cliff "the Spliff" Ronning as 5'8" 180 yet I saw a picture of PMB towering over him ...) it's not like him checking anybody is going to do much of anything.
On the other hand, we have Danny Irmen who is 6' and 200 lbs. (6'4", 225 lbs by the Wild's measurement standards) who would hit anything that moved if given the chance, is reasonably fast and brings some pretty good trash-talking. Joel Ward hit pretty well, but isn't all that fast.