Minnesota Wild: Finding A Way Past Allen

Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Wild have not been able to figure out how to score in their first round series.

After coaching the Minnesota Wild for four seasons and change Mike Yeo should know how to play his former team. No one is more aware of the shortcomings of this group better than Yeo. During his time with the team, the same group made the former Wild coach blow his top on more than one occasion.

Pack it in:

The blueprint used to steal games 1 and 2 on the road isn’t complicated. Timely goals have given the Blues the lead and forced Minnesota to play from behind for large chunks of the game. In fact, the Wild have not led at any point in the series.

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Once they have taken the lead, the team leans heavily upon goaltender Jake Allen to salt away the game. Time and time again he has made big saves on quality scoring chances against him. He has been the best player on either team thus far in the series. But that is not to say the rest of the team has contributed to his stellar play (.974% save percentage, 0.87 GAA).

Much has been made of the size of the St. Louis blue line with no defense men being shorter than 6 foot 2. While some of that height is negated by the size of the Minnesota center men (Koivu is 6’03”, Staal 6’04”, Hanzal 6’06”) there is no doubt it has allowed them to protect the net. In the first game especially the Wild did not get many looks close to the net. It should be noted both of the goals scored by the team have been in the area by the crease. Keeping the Minnesota Wild forwards out of the crease was clearly a priority.


To combat this approach, the Wild have to make a few adjustments. The first is to get more bodies and pucks going towards the net. When a team isn’t scoring both are important. Hockey is a game of fluky bounces and anything can happen when pucks are shot into traffic. At the moment The only screened or deflected shots have a chance of making it past Allen.

Secondly, the team needs to make the bulky D men of the Blues defend. Quick passing, running the cycle, and movement without the puck will wear them down. If the Wild can get the Blues D moving it will open up shooting lanes. Successfully utilizing their speed as a team could use the size of the Blues against them.

Next: Minnesota Wild: The Blues Come Marching In

Given the success of the Blues game plan in game 1 and 2, there likely won’t be much change in their strategy. Which means the Wild must figure out a way to get the puck past Allen and the rest of the defense. The offense needs to start scoring goals otherwise this year will be just another playoff disappointment.