By Brandon Mileski
If you exclude Empty Net goals, the Minnesota Wild have
given up just five 5v5 goals in 8 games this season. That’s usually a recipe
for success. So why do the Wild find themselves with just a 3-3-2 record?
The Wild’s Penalty Kill is stopping opposing PP’s at an
embarrassingly 71.9% clip, good for (or bad for) 27th in the NHL.
Given the Wild have strong PK guys like Suter, Brodin, Parise, Koivu, Cooke,
and Brodziak, this is very surprising.
But what’s more disappointing than the PK percentage is the
manner in which they are committing penalties.
Penalties being the root of the Wild’s problem began 10 days
ago in Nashville. Just 10 seconds after Zach Parise gave the Wild a 1-0 lead on
the road, Kyle Brodziak took an unnecessary interference penalty. Last thing
you want to do is immediately give away the momemtum you have just earned. It
got worse when Mikko Koivu received a tripping minor, just 21 seconds after
Brodziak’s penalty, giving the Predators 1:39 of 5v3 PP. Koivu’s penalty was in the offensive zone, 200 feet away from the Wild’s goal, which is a big no-no. After the 1:39 was completed, the Predators had 2 PP goals and a 2-1 lead at home, and all Wild momentum was dead.
Apparently the Wild didn’t learn their lesson because after
a dominant first period, Kyle Brodziak went to the Sin Bin for hooking, just 4 seconds after Jonas Brodin was called for holding. For the second consecutive game, the Wild were killing off
a long 5v3 PP, this time 1:56. The Jets cashed in on the PP, and the Wild went
to the dressing room tied 1-1 after a period in which they were the superior
Fast forward to last night’s game vs. Tampa Bay. The Lightning
controlled most of the game, thanks the Wild’s propensity for penalties.
Minnesota tallied 8 penalties and 6 of them were in the Offensive End.
Pominville for tripping, Scandella’s retaliation sticking up for Brodziak,
Spurgeon’s interference, Neiderreiter’s hooking, and Matt Cooke’s double minor
for high sticking, all which occurred far from the defensive zone.
The Wild have given up at least one Power Play Goal in 7 of
its 8 games this season.
You never want to commit penalties in the offensive end and
after momentum changing plays, and the Wild have failed in that department. They
have also failed at killing off the penalties.
Failing at both is not a recipe for success, no matter how well they’ve played 5v5.