Charlie Coyle, with just two goals and nine assists. He's a guy that Lou Nanne called a budding superstar, I believe, but Coyle is not living up to that. He needs to use his size to drive the net, or position himself in front of the crease so he can be there to jam in rebounds or at least provide a screen for point shots.
Mikael Granlund, with three goals and seven assists. He's still a relatively young player, so I'm not as down on him as others. Still, he really showed what he can do with the puck during last year's playoffs. I want to see that again. He might be trying to get a little too cute with the puck sometimes.
Jason Pominville has 11 assists and is second on the team in points, but he only has four goals. Maybe he needs an eye exam. Don't get me wrong, I've been a Pommer fan. But lately it seems a good chunk of his shots miss the net completely. Wide, wide, wide. I'd like to see him get the accuracy back and hopefully that will lead to some more goals.
Mikko Koivu, the team captain only has three goals and six assists, putting him further down on the stats sheet. I expect more from the veteran leader who is also the all-time points leader for the franchise.
Finally, Thomas Vanek. He's had many critics this season, and I'm officially one of them. He's a veteran player the front office signed for his goal scoring ability. So far, he has just two goals, although he's tied for the team lead with 12 assists.
Many people are pointing to his assists as a positive and wondering what all the fuss is about. I'll say again that he was signed for his goal scoring ability, not to be a play maker who constantly passes the puck and racks up assists.
He had arguably his best game of the season Friday in Dallas, with a late game-tying goal and two assists, including one on Scandella's winner. For me, it was a small step on a long road in the right direction. He has a lot to prove to me on the ice. By all means Vanek, prove me wrong.
|Niederreiter, Zucker and Parise warm up.|
I don't think many would argue that the biggest problem for the Wild this season is the power play. Quite often, it's actually been a momentum killer for them, which is the opposite of what you want. Just how bad are they with the man advantage? Ranked 29th in the league at 7-for-73. That's less than 10 percent.
It didn't seem like that big a deal when the season started and it got off to such a slow start. I mean, the Wild were winning and scoring goals 5-on-5. Plus, we all thought the power play would pick up eventually. Different aspects of the game go through hot and cold streaks in a long 82-game season, after all.
But after a couple months, this is getting ridiculous. Something has to be done to change it up. The Wild needs to adopt a shoot-first mentality, drive the net and stop worrying about making 14 passes for a highlight-reel goal. Sure, this is true of their play all the time, as I always am quick to point out, but it's even more true on the power play.
Also, start changing up who's on the power play units. Mike Yeo, if your leaders aren't getting it done, shake things up. Maybe the only way to light a fire under them is to demote them briefly. Why not bring in Jason Zucker or Nino Niederreiter to the top power play line?
Keeping Zucker on the penalty kill is great, but he needs a shot to shine on offense, too. And after all, Niederreiter has four of the team's PP goals.
Low in the standings
The Wild once again are hovering around that playoff bubble. Too early to talk playoffs? Sure. But every point is valuable in a Western Conference, not to mention Central Division, that is extremely competitive. I also blame the scheduling so far for putting the Wild at a disadvantage. It seems they can't catch up in the games played column after an early six-day break. (Grasping at straws with that one? Probably. But the numbers don't lie.)
Of course, that will all even out, but right now it doesn't put the Wild in a great position in the standings. Plus with the exception of Saturday, the Wild haven't lost in the OT/shootout column either. Regulation losses don't get you any points.
The Wild have shown they can be a great team, no doubt about it. Pointing out some of these flaws might be a little over the top, but in my opinion they are very valid issues that need to be addressed if the Wild will continue to have success.