For a team with a 3-3-3 record, the Minnesota Wild and their puck possession philosophy have certainly deserved a better outcome than they’ve received lately. They’ve outshot nearly every opponent and have played a fantastic, exciting game with plenty of opportunities. The biscuit just isn’t going into the basket is the problem. But, then again, that’s always seemed to be the case in Minnesota.
In nine games, the Wild have scored just 19 goals, including five in their recent 1-2-1 record road trip against the Eastern Conference. That has to change if Minnesota is going to make a second straight playoff appearance this postseason.
The Wild will take to the ice tonight against former No. 2 center Matt Cullen and the Nashville Predators having especially worked on driving to the net and creating chances in and around the crease in practice yesterday. It’s one thing to circle the perimeter and have a guy waiting for a one-timer in the slot and it’s another thing entirely to force your way through a defense to create a scoring opportunity and possibly even draw a penalty. That’s exactly what the Wild are going to have to do if they’re going to go anywhere this season.
Minnesota assistant captain Zach Parise knows this.
“We haven’t really practiced that a lot this year, and it’s one thing we need to get a lot better at,’’ said Parise, the Wild’s leading scorer with four goals. “We have good puck possession, but I don’t think we’re creating enough scoring chances around the net.
“Right now, we’ve just got our guy in the high slot waiting for a one-timer, and our other guys on the outside. That’s not how you score. We need to get some guys going through the middle and getting around the net, penetrating the defense a little bit.’’
With that said, there are a lot of expectations from around the fan base to see those efforts come to fruition on the ice even as early as tonight. It’ll take all Minnesota’s got to get around Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne. It’s a good thing Parise is a natural at scoring goals.