After struggling to find offense, the Minnesota Wild has rebounded to score 16 goals in the past 4 games. Certain players seem to be stepping up their scoring game to give hope for a sputtering Wild team.
Inconsistency has been the calling card for the Minnesota Wild early on in the 2016-17 season. It should really come as no surprise to anyone who has watched this team over the past couple of years. Dress it up anyway you like, this is the same group of players that has undergone an annual midwinter slide each of the past three years.
So really we all should have expected that the team would be inconsistent when it comes to scoring goals. Scoring, along with preventing the other team from scoring goals, is the single most important stat when it comes to winning or losing a game. At least for the moment, the trend is on the up for the Wild.
After starting off the month of November scoring just 12 goals in 9 games (an average of just 1.33 goals per game), the team rebounded to end the month. In their past 4 games, the same cast of characters has scored 16 goals, or 4 more than they did in the almost double the amount of games.
I am not so stupid as to suggest the team should never endure a scoring drought. Its the National Hockey League, the goalies you face night in and night out are really good, and players have been taught to block shots and get in the passing lanes so scoring is never easy. But a team that has playoff aspirations, or even expectations cannot have that sort of inconsistency when it comes to scoring goals.
Nov 25, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise (11) celebrates his goal with teammates during the second period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Having said that, the team is scoring plenty of them right now so maybe they have figured something out in these past few games. So it is worth taking a look at what has been working offensively for the Wild.
Just looking at the goals that have been scored over the past couple games, there hasn’t been anything flashy. Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter have both done good work in front of the net to get dirty goals. Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise have started scoring points to their capabilities. And most notably, defensemen have shown a willingness to shoot the puck and more importantly an ability to get the shot through traffic for a possible goal or deflection.
The emergence of Koivu and Parise is key going forward for the Wild. When both are on top of their games they offer a two way presence that few other forwards can match, and both make the players around them better. A combination of improved play from veterans and little plays to get more puck and traffic going toward the net have resulted in more goals for the Wild. Now all they need to do is find a way to do those things consistently.