Despite their respective positions in the standings, the Wild just looked overmatched against the Penguins in the early part of this game. They were just outmanned–specifically, through the first two periods, the Crosby-Hornqvist-Dupuis line did not allot a shot attempt of any kind (blocked, missed, or otherwise) while on the ice. This was across Minnesota lines, too, not just one particular matchup. The wheels fell off the bus in the second period, and credit them for making a contest of it again in the third, but I think the team’s depth is really starting to show its cracks. In the third of a four-game road trip, the Wild have not had the benefit of last change, and they will certainly be happy to get home.
The possession was pretty even through the first, though the Pens had the clear edge, and then in the second period, they just turned up the gas. Minnesota didn’t go quietly into that good night, however, and actually tied the shot attempt count at 35. This is why we don’t just look at final numbers, kids. Minnesota was punching off their back foot for most of the game, and against a team like Pittsburgh, that’s just not a winning strategy.
The Wild did a fairly good job of missing sticks and limbs, as I only count five missed shots at 5v5 all game. Not too bad. Both teams are pretty much scattered all over the map here, and there was a lot of up and down in this game. However, I see eleven blocked shots in the home-plate area by the Wild. Here’s an expanded view of Minnesota’s defense in the danger zone.
Not a lot got through there, though obviously the two goals are pretty glaring. Scandella is back but I’m sure his heart is very heavy–we recently learned that his father is very ill and Marco was at his bedside. Spurgeon and Dumba have done a good job offensively, but I would like to see them contribute a bit more in the defensive end.
After being very, very quiet through the first two periods, Granlund-Vanek-Pominville ended up winning some battles, and finished in the blue against the likes of Crosby, Kessel, Fehr, and Sprong. They did end up with some good looks, and Vanek very nearly tied the whole thing up right at the end, but it was too little too late. Minnesota did not establish any kind of forecheck, and other than a couple instances, did not really establish any kind of zone presence. This team seems to be able to score off the rush *much* better than in previous years, but they just didn’t have it tonight.
Hey, I guess it’s good that Prosser actually got some 5v5 time right? RIGHT?? Didn’t really hear Keranen’s name called, we’ll see if he sticks with the roster. Bulmer was called up, sent down without playing, and then called up again recently. It just seems like the team is scrambling to fill out its injury-depleted bottom six, but there’s not really a lot going on down on the farm right now. Parise has been skating, but he may still be over a week away, and any kind of a setback in his recovery is the last thing this team needs.
Next up, the Wild travel to Boston, where the Bruins have just seemed to have refused to play good defense this year. Hopefully they will not figure their stuff out until sometime next week. Then, the team travels back to the confines of the Xcel Energy Center, where the hometown fans will hopefully give them a boost.