Tuesday's loss to the Ottawa Senators was the Minnesota Wild's 9th overtime loss of the season. Going 1-9 in overtime alone (1-2 in the shootout) has meant that Minnesota has left an absurd amount of points on the table in the extra frame. Those missing points are perhaps the biggest reason that Minnesota is currently in a tight race with the Colorado Avalanche for the Western Conference's second Wild Card spot, as even a 4-6 record in overtime would have them with a decent lead in the standings.
In order to figure out what exactly the Wild's issues are in the new 3-on-3 overtime format, I decided to watch every single overtime game and try to spot patterns for both strengths and weakness the Wild displayed. We covered the first 5 overtime games yesterday, which you can read by clicking the box below this paragraph. We're covering the next five today, starting with...
December 7th: Minnesota @ Colorado
The Result: Loss. John Mitchell dug out a puck from the corner, went behind the net and found Matt Duchene. The Wild defense shifted over to Duchene, presumably trying to take him and Tyson Barrie out of the play. This left Mitchell all alone, and Duchene passed it to him where he had time and space to score.
What the Wild did well: Get the puck up ice. Mikael Granlund and Marco Scandella both had great breakout passes to create chances. Matt Dumba, Zach Parise and Granlund also had carry-ins that also set up offensive opportunities.
What the Wild did poorly: Finish. I think the Wild had four chances this game to finish the Avs off and get that much-needed point. But when it came time to step up and deliver the deciding blow, Ryan Suter, Charlie Coyle, and Parise (twice) couldn't hit paydirt.
December 11th: Minnesota @ Arizona
The Result: Loss. This ended pretty quickly after Parise got penalized- the whole period lasted 34 seconds. Mark Stone took a shot that deflected off Antoine Vermette to create a rebound that Mikkel Boedker tapped in to a wide-open net.
What the Wild did well: Steal the puck. Arizona won the opening faceoff, but Granlund was aggressive and swiped the puck, then dished it to Parise. Parise got dinged with a high-sticking penalty in the corner, but had it not gotten called, the steal would've created quite the chance for Granlund. Look at all this space in front of the net.
What the Wild did poorly: Keep their sticks to themselves. Playing 3v4 isn't exactly easy, so the penalty kill isn't going to get my ire here. Zach Parise's penalty was extremely costly.
January 2nd: Minnesota @ Tampa Bay
The Result: Shootout. Despite a couple of shots for both sides, the game had to be decided in the shootout, where the Lightning prevailed.
What the Wild did well: Goaltend. With Minnesota hemmed in their own zone (we'll get to that in a minute), Hedman took advantage of the tired Wild to get himself space and a wide open net to shoot at. Dubnyk quickly recovered to make a spectacular save to bail out his team.
What the Wild did poorly: Take faceoffs. Despite rolling out ace faceoff men Mikko Koivu and Jarret Stoll in the extra frame, the Wild lost their first two draws, which rendered them unable to take possession for about half the overtime. Stoll's lost draw was what set into motion the events of Dubnyk's save.
January 7th: Minnesota vs Philadelphia
The Result: Loss. Michael Del Zotto completed a tic-tac-toe play in the offensive zone to win it for the Flyers with 37 seconds left.
What the Wild did well: I'd tell you, but I could only find video of the final goal.
What the Wild did poorly: Getting into passing lanes. You only have a few seconds to react on a 3-on-2, so you'd better make the right choice. Unfortunately, Granlund and Scandella both focused more on obstructing Jakub Voracek, rather than take away his passing options to Claude Giroux or Del Zotto. Both players making that decision gave Voracek not only the space he needed to make the pass to Giroux, but it also left them with no chance to stop Giroux's cross-ice feed to Del Zotto.
January 25th: Minnesota vs. Arizona
The Result: Shootout. Fun fact: Due to penalties, and a lack of stoppages, there was no point of this overtime that was actually played at 3-on-3.
What the Wild did well: Clear the puck. Well, they did after they allowed a goal, anyway. Boedker almost ended a second game for the Wild off a deflection, but the goal was waived off due to incidental contact in the crease. But after that, the Wild got two very crucial clears to stop the Coyotes from scoring.
Also, top-notch: Dubnyk's reaction to the disallowed goal, in the face of taunts from the Coyotes.
What the Wild did poorly: Exert offensive pressure. A lot of this had to do with the Wild being down a man for two minutes, but the Wild also had 36 seconds with a power play of their own, and they weren't able to convert. Why? Non-threatening perimeter play. Ryan Suter, Parise, and Mikko Koivu set up on the outside, but since only Parise is considered a threat to score from distance, the Coyotes killers felt little reason to be drawn from the front of the net. So when Minnesota decided to take the play to the front of the net, Arizona was in a perfect position to stop them.
We'll cover the remaining 3 overtime games and conclude this series tomorrow.