Dismal December: Wild Has Worst December in History

Nick MaxsonCorrespondent IJanuary 7, 2009

After starting the season strong, Minnesota hit a brick wall and recorded the worst December record in franchise history.

Just two weeks before the All Star Game in Montreal; the un-official halfway point of the regular season, Minnesota, which was on the inside looking out, is now looking in.

In the month of December, Minnesota skated to a record of 4-9-1. In the previous two months, Minnesota went 14-7-1, surprising since statistically November has been the worst month for the franchise. This November however, the Wild went 8-5-0.

This December could be characterized by the lack of offense, and maybe for once a lack of defense. Minnesota gave up 37 goals in December, seven more than they scored.

In one-goal games, a stat that Minnesota historically does well, the Wild went 2-4-1. Worst of all, against northwest division opponents, Minnesota went 0-3-1.

Injury problems continue to plague the Wild and it cost them dearly in December. Eric Belanger, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Owen Nolan, and Marian Gaborik all missed multiple games in December due to injury or illness.

Marian Gaborik is likely to miss most of the remaining regular season as he underwent surgery on his left hip due to "chronic groin pain" as described by Wild.com.

The surgery will keep Gaborik out 10-14 weeks, which would make this season Gaborik's worst in terms of games missed due to injury.

In an interview with NHL.com, Wild General Manager Doug Risebrough commented on Gaborik's choice to have surgery. " I'm disappointed that he won't be here for us through this part of the season, but this is the choice Marian has made."

It is clear Gaborik is trying to make himself healthy enough to be picked up in the off-season. Trade rumors and talks are now gone as Gaborik now will be in physical therapy for the next several weeks.

As for the Wild, who struggled to find offense in December ended the sluggish month on a momentum-changing win over the NHL leading San Jose Sharks 3-2 in overtime.

Shortly after in the first game of January the Wild then lost to Detroit in a shootout with a questionable goal, which was reviewed and allowed in the third period, which lead to the Red Wings tying the game.

Since then Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom has had two-straight shutout wins against Colorado and the Eastern Conference best Boston Bruins.

Minnesota Will have to keep a tight defense and have many players step up on offense to allow the Wild to climb back into the playoff picture.

Owen Nolan came off a recent injury that kept him out 10 games in December and scored four goals in three games.

Minnesota still waits for the return of defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron who was vital to the Wild's power play and offense from the blue-line as he recovers from a lower-body injury.