9 games into the new NHL season and the Minnesota Wild are 3-3-3 with 9 points of a total 18 possible, putting them at 17th of 30 in the league, 5th of 7 in the Central Division and 4th in the wild card seedings in the Western Conference where only the top 2 teams in the West qualify for the last 2 playoff spots after the top 3 in each division qualify for the top 6 seedings for the playoffs. The good news is that the Wild are 2 points out of those two wildcard spots. The bad news is that the Wild are beneath 4 teams in the Western Conference standings and all are close to the Wild being between 1 point behind and 4 points behind.
Okay, 3-3-3 isn't really bad, I thought to ask this question: So far this season, would you consider the Wild's gas tank as half full or half empty?
I did predict the Wild to be 8-5 or 9-4. But so far, things are pretty much going as I've seen things this early in the Wild season. With only 4 games left this month, the Wild can attempt to top out 17 points at the end of the month. Winning the last 4 games of the month will sure satisfy the fan base for some that are quickly hitting the panic button. Then again, that will probably be easier said than done.
So why aren't the Wild finishing on their chances? Well, to start with, it’s hard to win games when you haven’t scored more than 1 goal per game in your last 3 games. Officially 6 one goal games, unless you don’t count the empty net goal in Tampa at the end which gave them a 3-1 win, and the 5-1 win against Dallas. And, of those games not in the anomaly category, when the Wild do win, it’s by the score of 2-1 from playing Buffalo and Winnipeg.
Don't get me wrong, the Wild have come a long way. To start turning the franchise around by being focused on defense of being a puck possession team with offense. Well, it's about time that the Wild are accomplishing that. But what's the solution to goal scoring? It's simple. Just because you win more faceoffs and control the puck more, that does not translate into goals or wins. The next step is for the Wild is to learn how to attack in the offensive zone and get a lot more goals. We've seen the Wild attack in the defensive zone since the Wild has the lowest shots against with 21.7%. Now it's time to translate to the offensive zone. I'll give you some examples of the how the best teams in the NHL are so successful in scoring goals due to attack in the offensive zone.
Teams like the Colorado Avalanche, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, and the Pittsburgh Penguins have been successful on offense. I've watched most of their games, and let me tell you, they have done better attacking in the offensive zone than the Wild do. Avs head coach Patrick Roy, has been doing a great job so far in turning the Avalanche around. In their games, in the offensive zone, I've seen attack, after attack, after attack. And they've resulted in games like 6-1, 3-1, 5-1, and 4-2. It's because they know how to attack in the offensive zone. All the other teams I've mentioned have done the same thing. Now can the Wild do that? Yes. However, they may not have the persona for such a jump this season. But by seeing the chances that they have not converted, it's possible.
The next 4 games may will determine a lot for the Wild. The Wild will play at home against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday, and a home and home series against the defending champs the Chicago Blackhawks. Now don't get me wrong, but don't you think Mike Yeo and Chuck Fletcher hit the hot seat if they can’t turn this scoring-challenged team around and soon? Also, if the Wild can’t break out of their scoring slump, I can’t help but think that Fletcher may attempt to orchestrate a trade of some sort, even with being severely constrained by the salary cap. But time will tell if that happens. The Wild just need to learn to attack in the offensive zone. They already know how to attack in the defensive zone, but maybe improve a little in the neutral zone.
What we will probably see is a lesser form of that kind of deal as Chuck Fletcher is and has been appropriate to do. Look for something in November if the Wild don’t solve their scoring woes.
So, how do you see things so far for the Minnesota Wild? Tank half empty or half full? Also, how will you be if the Wild don't qualify for the playoffs this season? Will Yeo or Fletcher be removed?
No I know this may not be my best article, but at least I'm stating the fact of how the Wild are gonna be a better goal-scoring team.