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Changing my Mind about the Dumba/Brodin Pairing

In the pre-season, I raved about how much I liked the Brodin/Dumba defensive pairing, but after three games, I don't like what I've seen.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Dumba is the offensive whiz-bang, and Jonas Brodin is the defensively sound dynamo, and together, they should be one heck of a dynamic duo. But with three percent of the precincts reporting, those two on the ice has spelled neither defense nor offense.

Comments on game threads and social media are abundant about how Matt Dumba looks like a mess defenseively on the ice. No more was that apparent than in Thursday night's game against the Arizona Coyotes. Sure the play started with a badly forced pass from Nino Niederreiter, but Brodin found himslef out of position attempting to keep the puck in the zone, and Dumba didn't position himself to defend the pass even a little bit.

To be fair, Brodin is still a fantastic defender, and he saved a goal by clearing a loose puck from the crease behind Devan Dubnyk. However, Dumba had a chance down the left side on a 3-on-2 break, but chose to pass to a worse angle across to the right wing side. It's plays like these that can be upsetting to watch. The two things each player is supposed to be good at and they aren't playing like they can.

Heading into Thursday's game, Brodin was just ahead of Christian Folin on the chart for Unblocked Shot Attempts% Relative. For a kid that has made a name for himself by being a great puck mover by using his stellar skating ability to help drive the puck up ice with possession. In fact, Dumba has a better USAT% than Brodin.

Matt Dumba has just one assist and only two freaking shots on goal 5v5. Then when you add his deference in the game against the Coyotes, it compounds his overall ineffectiveness on the ice. Dumba is good at offense and he needs to play like someone that possesses a wicked-hard slap shot and a real knack for the net instead of someone that doesn't. He needs to be better on defense, that's a given, but if he isn't going to influence the offense with his skating and his shot, then why is he out there?

What's the fix? It could be a situation where the Wild resorts back to the pairings of last season. With Dumba getting some more sheltered time, he could then be allowed to exploit better zone starts and weaker competition. It has been suggested that he join Ryan Suter. Which, in theory, sounds like a good idea the realization of Dumba playing top-pairing minutes sets in. If Dumba isn't quite ready to handle second pairing deployment, how in the heck is he ready for first pairing deployment. Not to mention, with the Wild consciously working to limit Suter's minutes, breaking up the pairings now could ruin those attempts.

Brodin has been a stud on the right side of Suter, and Jared Spurgeon has always been fantastic alongside Marco Scandella. It would be great to re-unite the Scandella/Spurgeon pairing, but having them separate allows the coaching staff to even out the minutes for the entire defensive corps.

What is the best offensive defenseman so far in this young season for the Wild? Ryan Suter. With the way he is playing through three games, on both ends, it would be travesty to do something now that could potentially derail the promising start to his season.

Maybe this is just some growing pains the Wild and fans will have to deal with until the play of Brodin and Dumba rounds into form. And with the Wild winning, you can maybe wait and see, but once it starts costing the Wild games, how long can the coaching staff and the fans wait before a change is needed?