If there was one word to describe the Wild’s performance in Friday’s tilt it would be “Discombobulated.” It’s a word that means “confused or disconcerted,” as defined by the Oxford Dictionary. After 8 days off, the Wild most certainly looked confused, especially on the power play, and disconcerted when trying to get any sort of offense going. Minnesota fell not just to the Stars 3-1 on Friday, but after sitting in third place in the Central Division going into the contest, they’ve been usurped in the standings by the same Stars team.
The joke was that the Wild looked like a team that hadn’t played in 8 days. Except no one was really laughing after a lackluster performance. Besides a new word to describe the Wild and discovering a non-humorous joke, what else did we learn?
Victor Rask, Pontus Aberg, and Zach Parise need to be split up
Zach Parise’s efforts are being wasted on a line with Aberg and Rask. There’s no spinning that truth. The fact that Parise still hit over 40 percent in raw shot attempts in last night’s game is nothing short of amazing. Victor Rask posted a 36.36 percent, while Aberg, though missing half the game to an lower body injury, was a brutal 18.18 percent in the same category. This means that while Rask, Aberg, and Parise were on the ice, they weren’t just giving up more shots than they took, but they were getting handled. Parise might be one of the better forecheckers on the team, and as F1, he’s usually making things happen. Unfortunately, Rask and Aberg gave up the puck, didn’t take shots, and were forced to defend. There was no sheltering to be done for that line. In fact, against every player they were matched up against, they gave up the shot share.
Needless to say, that line must be broken up. Bruce can’t continue to roll out a line that just gets buried in the shot share, while providing almost no offense on its own. Sure, other lines may have been working prior to the break, but just how successful were they? It’s not like other lines were scoring three goals and five points a night. Oh, wait...
Hockey is a team game
Devan Dubnyk certainly would have liked to have the game-winning goal back. It was from a low angle out near the boards, and didn’t really move. Yet, it some how found a way through his pads and trickled over the goal line. FSN did their best to try and explain the goal by making up a phantom tip off the stick of Ryan Suter that caused the puck to ramp up perhaps more than what Dubnyk was expecting. The fact remains, goalies stop pucks that are deflected at a higher degree of incidence than the one that originally came off Tyler Seguin’s stick blade.
So while Dubnyk probably should have made that save, it’s also on his teammates to pick him up after that. After all, he was the sole reason the Wild were still in the game, even after the Seguin goal. The Wild had just over seven minutes to answer and force overtime at a minimum. Though out of the 10 shots on goal in the third period, only three came after the Seguin goal. That is what is maddening most. The Wild were still in the game, and could only muster 3 measley shots on goal.
Instead, they looked discombobulated, like they didn’t have an answer to the defense the Stars were applying. They were giving hand grenade passes to the defensemen at the blue lines. They were dumping with out any real chase. It was a mess, and that’s why they lost. Dubnyk may be receiving some grief for giving up the goal in the fashion that he did, but the Wild had ample time to answer back, and instead they laid down.
The Bye Week is ridiculously unnecessary
Remember the four days in between games followed by back-to-backs not just once, but twice in the month of October? Or how about the single set of back-to-backs in December? For a league that is concerned about disrupting the middle of the season to go to the Olympics, a nine day break in the middle of the season seems pretty damn disruptive. Granted not every team is taking their break at the same time, but when they come back and have to face a team that has been playing without an elongated hiatus before and after the All-Star break. So when the Wild come in looking like a discombobulated mess with a fresh tan, and the Stars take it to them all game long, well, it’s a recipe for dropping in the standings.
Oh and the schedule only gets worse from here on out. March is jam packed, as it always is, but if the Wild didn’t have a bye week, then maybe the stretch in March that’s usually travel heavy, isn’t as taxing on a team struggling to make the post season. Get rid of the bye week, actually make the schedulers do their jobs properly, and then we won’t have any awful excuses about how the team hasn’t played or practiced in eight days and that’s part of the reason they lost a tough divisional game.