So we're just 2 games into an 82 games NHL season with this Minnesota Wild squad, and the questions about this team are starting to emerge already. At this point, it's very subtle. With only 2 games under our belt what is it we really know?
Like, I would love to sit here and tell you that Charlie Coyle scoring at a rate of 5.02 points per 60 minutes in all situations is the kind of production we could expect to see the rest of the season. Blindly ignoring a PDO over 106 through 2 games or the much more obvious fact that 6 points/60 being miles ahead of his marks last season of 1.66 points/60 points to this kind of production being unstable at best. I wouldn't mind going on and on about Zach Parise scoring 4 goals for every 10 shots on goal, never mind his career shooting percentage of 11.6%.
Conversely I could drone on about how Devan Dubnyk's regression may be worse than we anticipated. Whereas his save percentage in high danger situations is up from .842 last season with the Wild, to .882 this season, his low danger save percentage is down from .972 to .958 this season and even more glaring is a medium danger save percentage dropping from .941 last season to just .786 this season despite his overall shots faced per 60 dropping just over a tenth of a percent from 27.74 to 27.62.
NUMBERS ARE FUN!
The simple fact of the matter is, there is not a lot of numbers out there to base any argument off of. What we have seen from this team barely passes the eye test. The lone saving grace for you Minnesota Wild right now is that the offense has found a way to win both of its games this season. Parise took over game 1 against the Colorado Avalanche. With some help from Thomas Vanek and Nino Niederreiter the Wild were able to mount a comeback and beat the hot dog loving Patrick "Wah not" Roy and his Avalanche team who played without the benefit of a morning skate.
The Wild looked rusty, were thoroughly out-skated for most of the game, but as we saw in a lot of games late in the last season they were able to turn up the pace at crucial moments and come away with a vicory. It wasn't pretty, but pretty isn't always enough to get you in the win column.
While facing off against the St. Louis Blues last Saturday the Wild managed to win without registering even 20 shots on goal. Led by 2 goals from Charlie Coyle, and another from the immortal Zach Parise, the Wild squeaked by with a 3-2 victory because Blues netminder Jake Allen stopped just 16 of 19 shots on goal.
On the other end of the Ice Devan Dubnyk faced 32 shots on goal and was able to stop 30 of those. What's a little more telling though is that both Blues goals came inside the circles. In fact, 3 of the 6 goals he's allowed this season have been inside those circles and another from just outside the circle near his crease. It's just 2 games, but this is telling me Dubnyk is either not squaring up to the puck, or he's playing too far back in his crease leaving too much twine available to snipe.
If the season were a book, we wouldn't even be through chapter 1 yet. There is nothing out there to suggest any of these trends are bound to continue. I would fully expect Dubs to shore up his weaknesses through 2 games, as I expect Coyle and Parise to level off. Duh, it's just been 2 games. We could be mid-season and you could grab any 2 consecutive games at random and your bound to find someone with super-human numbers. The same holds true for finding struggles in a players game
While the team hasn't looked like they've found their stride yet, it certainly hasn't stopped the chorus of "rip the C" Koivu haters, Vanek bashers and the fire Yeo mob from getting in their jabs. And I get it, I can fully understand the argument against them and can appreciate the passion. We're just kicking of season 15 here in Minnesota, and with limited success it can get a little unnerving, especially in this day of instant coffee and instant gratification.
While the wins might not be pretty, they are wins. Good teams find ways to win, even against the odds. They find ways to mount 3 goal comebacks late in games, they find ways to beat opponents who are throwing their weight around. They take leads against a team, and hold them off to secure a victory, even if it's not pretty. Through 2 games the Wild are doing all of this. While expecting any team to win every night is as far fetched as compromise in Washington, and despite the obvious struggles the team has shown early, they have also shown we should have a lot to look forward to.