Good Afternoon Wilderness...I hope as I write this you're in good spirits and in good health. Not the start that most of us planned for, or expected, but the Minnesota Wild currently sit in ninth place in the Western Conference tied with the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames. The Wild currently have an unimpressive, lackluster 3-3-2 record, after eight games.
The common theme in everything that I've read – that's related to the Minnesota Wild – is how the team is snake bitten, they can't score goals. They can't buy a goal from their second line. Other Wild players, aren't putting up the numbers, either. In my opinion, most of the Wild players couldn't hit water, if they were standing in a boat in the middle of one of Minnesota 10,000 lakes.
But I digress.
So far this season, the big problem for the Minnesota Wild is secondary scoring, meaning they're not getting any scoring from their second line, or fourth line. After eight games, leftwing Dany Heatley is not scoring or contributing much of anything on the score sheet. The much maligned left wing is (0g-1a-1pts) and is a minus -1. This isn't going to sit well with Wild fans. Michael Russo sums it up best.
Darcy Kuemper was reassigned to Iowa. As of now, no forward call up, which surprises me a bit. I feel it would be a good time to shake it up, particularly shake up a second line that hasn't scored a goal this season. Dany Heatley's off to the worst start of his career and will match his career-long goal drought of nine games if he doesn't score vs. Florida. He's twice before gone nine games without a goal, and both came last season.
But let's not put all of the blame on Dany Heatley. I know it's cheesy, but there's no "I" in team, and the other players on the team need to step up as well. If you're not named Matt Cooke (3g-3a-6pts), Miko Koivu (1g-4a-5pts) or Zach Parise (4g-1a-5pts) or playing defense for the Minnesota Wild, you're probably not producing much on the score sheet. Third liner players Matt Cooke and Kyle Brodziak have played well in their current roles, but they shouldn't be expected to carry the load for the Minnesota Wild.
Last season, secondary scoring was a problem for the Minnesota Wild and it doesn't appear to have changed very much this season as well. Check out these numbers from the Wild forwards.
Jason Pominville (3g-0a-3pts), Mikael Granlund (0g-3a-3pts), Dany Heatley (0g-1a-1pts), Torrey Mitchell (0g-1a-1pts), Justin Fontaine (1g-0a-1pts), Stephane Veilleux (0g-0a-0pts), Zenon Konopka (0g-0a-0pts).
This save by Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop on Minnesota forward Jason Pominville kind of sums up the Wild's season so far. Close, but no cigar.
If you look at these numbers, there's a lot of zeros and not a lot of goals being scored. As I mentioned before, there's not a lot of help coming from the Wild forwards on the second and fourth lines. There's just doesn't seem to be a lot of balance on this hockey team right now. The goal shortage needs to change and change fast if the Minnesota Wild are going to go anywhere this season. If the Wild don't get some goal scoring, soon, it could be a very long season in the State of Hockey.
I would imagine that the Wild Management wishes they could have used an amnesty buyout on Dany Heatley who's making 7.5 million dollars a year to log one assist through eight games.
Charlie Coyle not ready
The other bad news, Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle is still a few weeks away from rejoining the Minnesota Wild lineup. Coyle definitely could help the Wild in the scoring department.
Matt Cooke shines
I am going to give credit where credit is due. I also must admit that I am mildly surprised; Matt Cooke has been a ray of sunshine in an otherwise crappy start to the 2013-14 season. Through eight games, Cooke has scored (3g-3a-6pts) is a plus +5 and has taken a grand total of 2 minor penalties for four minutes. I hope that Cooke can keep it up, because he's been one of the few bright spots on this hockey team to date.