Minnesota Wild: Bell Curve Play Downs Wild Again

The Minnesota Wild seem to be having issues giving a consistent and strong scoring effort over a sixty minute game.  Last night against Buffalo and in other losses it certainly can be pointed to as the key factor contributing to the loss.

In science and statistics there is a phenomenon known as the bell curve.  The idea here is that a measure of data starts low then gains a gradual peak, only to decline gradually back down about the level that the data was to start.  Sounds like a typical Minnesota Wild game in the 2016-17 season right?

The Wild again last night had an issue with starting very slow in the first period, ramping up in the second period to, only to watch a gradual decline in the third period which led to their demise against the Sabres.  It’s definitely a trend item and one that has the Wild and their coaching staff are scratching their heads to solve.

Thus far this season the Wild have scored 5 goals in the first period, 16 goals in the second period, and 12 goals in the third period.  Now granted that doesn’t make a clean bell curve, it does illustrate the point that the Wild are slow out of the gate and fade in the third period.

Wild Head Coach Bruce Boudreau definitely see this issue with his team and voiced it after a last night’s loss. “It was frustrating. Sometimes it’s a frustrating team,” Boudreau explained after the game. “It can play so good one period and not show up for the [next] period.”

Nov 1, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild forward Mikael Granlund (64) reacts to a slash breaking his stick by Buffalo Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges (4) who is penalized during the second period at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

According to Michael Russo of the Star Tribune Boudreau described the Wild in the first period as having “no life and no energy.”  His criticism didn’t end there when he described the Wild’s play in the third period as ““It was like we were playing for a tie.”

Boudreau is right the Wild seem to have a problem keeping consistent energy throughout the game, and its’ going to cost them a few contests if they can’t fix it.  The merits of playing strong from the open puck drop to the final horn in the third period are obvious, but for some reason the Wild are having an issue making that happen.

It’s not really goaltending, because in the Wild’s losses this season Devan Dubnyk has not given up more than three goals (Kuemper is a little different of a story).  The goal scoring is more of the problem as in those losses the Wild have scored no more than 2 goals (2, 1, 1).

Boudreau’s take is that the Wild need to increase their net presence and the goals will flow a bit more.  Scoring off the rush seems to be the Wild’s M.O. but their new coach doesn’t see it as a sustainable goal scoring model.  As he explained last night “And that’s a hard way to win it if you don’t want to get down and dirty and score those grungy goals.”

So whatever the solution is to making a more consistent scoring effort game-in and game-out, the Wild need to figure it out quickly.  Wasting precious minutes of a game not having a good scoring effort could be the difference between being on top of the division and conference, to being a bubble playoff team.  In the context of last night’s tilt Dubs explains the Wild woes the best, “I don’t think we were really ready at the drop of the puck, and then we’re down one early after we scramble around our end for a bit.”  Hard to win that way.

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