We're going to conclude our series on how the Wild have been so terrible in overtime! Here are the three OT games we haven't covered yet, followed by trends that I saw throughout the season.
If you haven't read the first two parts of this, we watched every minute of overtime the Wild played this season, breaking down what the Wild have done well, and done poorly. You can read them by clicking below.
February 9th: Minnesota vs. Dallas
The Result: Like once before this season, John Klingberg ended the game by doing John Klingberg things.
What the Wild did well: Use their vision in the offensive zone. And really, this isn't "What the Wild did well", but "What Mikael Granlund did well." His shift saw two passes to Matt Dumba, one for a slapper at the top of the circles, and a particularly nifty second one through traffic to a cutting Dumba, who couldn't quite corral it. Other than that, it was a very unthreatening period for the Wild.
What the Wild did poorly: Contain John Klingberg. Not only did he get open to score the game-winner, but Klingberg also had a fantastic chance to start the period that Darcy Kuemper managed to stop. Look at just how much room that Klingberg has to roam on his two shots.
March 5th: Minnesota @ Buffalo
The Result: Shootout. The Wild would go on to win this game.
What the Wild did well: Go to the net (sometimes). Mikko Koivu found Marco Scandella cutting to the net for a great opportunity, and Erik Haula took a breakaway and wasted no time getting a shot off.
What the Wild did poorly: Defend the middle. There were far too many opportunities for the Sabres to score, particularly in the two minutes, and most of them came right in the middle of the ice.
March 15th: Minnesota @ Ottawa
The Result: Loss. After forcing overtime in the final seconds of the game, Ottawa stole a win from Minnesota when Erik Karlsson scored with 30 seconds remaining in overtime.
What the Wild did well: Kill penalties. Well, just one penalty- but it was a big one! The Wild managed to hold their positioning well and get some timely clears, limiting Ottawa's power play to just one shot in overtime.
What the Wild did poorly: Contain Karlsson. I get it. Erik Karlsson is one of the best defensemen in the league, and he's as mobile as can be. But man, did the Wild give him a lot of room to let him do whatever he wanted. It's a bad strategy.
Anyway, here are some things that I took away from doing this. Some will be obvious, some less so.
Ryan Suter isn't useless in 3-on-3. And neither is Mikael Granlund or Thomas Vanek. All three have come under fire for their play in the 3-on-3 format because of either their foot speed or their aversion to shooting. But after watching the Wild's play in overtime, there's a role for all three of them in overtime. You wouldn't think that Suter's defensive capabilities would be necessary, but there've been occasions where he's stopped scoring chances with his positioning and stick work, and he can still move the puck up ice. Granlund has had high-profile moments where he's passed up shots he should've taken, but he benefits from more room. Same with Thomas Vanek, who's an asset in the offensive zone, at least.
Those three shouldn't be on the ice together. Like, in any combination. I think it can make sense to sacrifice the speed or shooting threat, so long as you can supplement one of those three with players that can take advantage of those weaknesses. Putting, say, Granlund and Suter both on the ice means there's only one Wild player who's a threat to score, which is easier for defenses to work with.
Two-way is not the way? The Wild's game plan in overtime (both under Yeo and Torchetti) seems to be geared more towards trying to reign in the chaos of 3v3 as best as they can. That's why you see, say, Mikko Koivu- a good faceoff man and defender- log a lot of minutes in overtime. But Koivu in OT hasn't worked. He thrives in 5v5, where he can cover up his lack of foot speed by using his size and instincts to clamp down on defenses. But the more room there is on the ice, the less the game is suited to Koivu's strengths. And that's just defensively.
Offensively, Koivu's been as dynamic on 3v3 as a potato, generally not moving the puck quickly or acting as a threat to score- an issue that gets compounded when paired with Suter or Granlund (which happens far too often). When you look at who's on the ice when the Wild've gotten chances, it's often been Granlund or Haula at center. And if that's the case, and the speed of the game nullifies Koivu's defensive value, what's he doing out on the ice?
Top Defensemen terrorize this team... It might be the lack of speed the Wild ice in overtime. Or it might be that you're never going to stop these elite offensive defensemen in open space. But Klingberg, Karlsson, and even Victor Hedman have given the Wild fits this season at 3v3, and they just don't seem to have an answer to that.
...But they've been reluctant to replicate that for themselves. Given that those guys have created such problems for the Wild, don't you'd think they'd want to try replicating that with Matt Dumba, their most dynamic defenseman? Guys like Karlsson wreak havoc by using their skating and shot to open space for themselves and their teammates. But when Dumba's been on the ice for the Wild, they've seemed content to keep him relatively stationary to wait for the one-timer. And granted- it's a huge weapon to have- but using Dumba one-dimensionally hasn't been the answer for injecting offense onto this team.