If you're looking to make sense of the Wild's first 5 games, join the club. We've played like a bag of garbage along side the highway and won, and now we've played lights out hockey, and lost. We've watched as the power play has come to life while the penalty kill has fallen flat. The excitement around 3 solid defensive pairings has given way to a sort of apathetic despair mostly surrounding Matt Dumba failing to launch this season. Darcy Kuemper looks solid and Devan Dubnyk has struggled. It's just 5 games into this season and we are already on our 2nd extended break between games.
Last week we sat back and discussed how we had only played a couple games, and there wasn't really any meaningful way to analyze what was going on. With 3 additional games under our belt now, some trends are starting to form. The trends aren't always pretty. Then again neither have some of the Wild's games so far this season, so that's about par for the course.
As of today, the Wild are 17th in the NHL in scoring with 14 goals, and just 9 5v5 goals. By contrast, the St. Louis Blues are first in the NHL with 21 goals and 17 5v5 goals. However, both teams have a player tied for most goals this season in Zach Parise for the Wild and Vladimir Tarasenko for the Blues, both with 5 goals on the season. It sounds an awful lot like one team isn't getting any meaningful secondary scoring. Not a new problem for your Minnesota Wild, yet it's a tad concerning as one of the big steps forward we are looking for with this team this season was for some of the younger generation to step it up a notch.
Aside from Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle who have each scored twice, the Wild have just 1 goal from the youngsters on the squad, coming from Mikael Granlund. It's not to say the secondary scoring will not show up. Jason Zucker has looked pretty good paired with Koivu and Niederreiter, but he has yet to find pay dirt. In the ultra competitive Conference III, secondary scoring is going to be clutch, this and every year.
The game against the Los Angeles Kings may not be the best example, as the entire team seemed to take a nap for 2 periods. Nor is the Anaheim Ducks game something you could point to to show how when the top line struggles, you need to have your other lines step up to the plate. Yet in both games, that secondary scoring was elusive for the Wild. With El Nino scoring against the Ducks, and the Kaptain, Mikko Koivu pocketing a goal against both the Ducks and Kings, that secondary scoring has just not been there.
It's not just the losses either. As mentioned above, only 3 kids have scored a goal so far for the Wild, and 3 of the veterans as well. Jason Pominville has yet to score, Justin Fontaine hasn't scored, albeit in limited appearances. The fourth line made up of Chris Porter, Erik Haula, and Ryan Carter has yet to register on the score sheet.
The Wild have been riding on the back of an electric Zach Parise. I hate to break to to ya folks, he's not going to pull the rabbit out of his hat all season like he has so far. He may have a great season, he may have the best season of his career. Simply stated though, he should not be counted on to be the sole contributor each and every single night. To date, the Wild have relied on him to pull them up to find the W column.
Still, it's not time to freak out. The Wild haven't looked great in all their games, but they did put together a strong game, reminiscent of what we should expect, against the Ducks. It seems that as they finally getting into a more regular, regular season they will start to come together. It may be disheartening right now, but if they can play closer to what they did against the Ducks, and less like they did against the Kings this team should be fine. The goals will come. If Parise keeps up his phenomenal performance, or even keeps close and some of that secondary scoring starts to flash, we'll find the wins more often than the losses.