A few people have asked me why, or what is making it so difficult for the Wild, especially when they have two of the league's top players in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. They just don't seem to have a knack for scoring. They'd rather pass the puck around 10 times before taking a shot, or send it behind the goal, or look for that perfect play to create a highlight-reel goal.
A lot of the goals scored, garbage goals, are because the Wild switch it up and just throw pucks at the net. You do that enough, good things will come. But taking 90 seconds of a power play to set up a so-called perfect shot, only to have it sail wide or get blocked by a defender, doesn't get the job done.It seems they're more focused on their system and puck cycling than thinking about the net. Playing your game like this is fine sometimes, but they shouldn't be afraid to take chances either. Crash the net, because you never know what juicy rebounds will be waiting. Throw some pucks upstairs. See what happens.
Trouble between the pipes
The goaltender situation doesn't inspire the best confidence either. Don't get me wrong, Josh Harding has been excellent in what has turned out to be a No. 1-goalie role. He's made some outstanding saves and often gives his team a chance to win. The drawback is his Multiple Sclerosis which could keep him out of the lineup. He missed the last road trip because he needed to make an adjustment to his treatment.I'm not picking on him and his MS. I think it's amazing he's still playing at such a high level. Kudos. But he may not be reliable because of it, and that's just reality.
Then there's Niklas Backstrom, who's turned into the backup goalie. Some may say he's slumping along with the team, or that he's not playing well when he gets the call because he isn't starting as much as he used to. I honestly think he's past his prime. I don't think he has what it takes to lead the Wild into a deep playoff run.Who goes where?
Another concern for this team is all the lineup shuffling and minor league call-ups. Head coach Mike Yeo seems to like moving guys around between the different lines. Obviously, it has to do with injuries as well, but a little consistency might not hurt. Let some guys develop a good system together so their play becomes second nature and can result in more offense.
Parise has been out for a couple games already, and might be out for quite awhile, as he continues to heal after he blocked a shot with his foot awhile back. He was supposed to be out for weeks, but surprised everyone when the injury didn't keep him down. He's still paying for it now. I just hope he doesn't return until he's fully ready. Oh, and it'd be nice to have him on the Olympic team, too.It will be interesting to see how the Wild respond from the slump. Points are extremely important and the Wild can't afford to slip further down in the standings. They need to figure out the scoring problems and find ways to win. They need to get back to whatever they were doing in November when it seemed they couldn't lose.
Here's a big one: They need to start winning on the road. They also need to find ways to compete with some of the powerhouse teams like the Ducks, Blackhawks and Sharks.
Let's hope the Wild can shift play in the right direction in 2014. And fast.