So far, the Minnesota Wild’s defensive effort has been called both horrendous and also compared to what you might see from a junior league hockey team.
And that’s the thoughts from Wild coach Dean Evason and forward Mats Zuccarello, respectively.
The Wild, who have given up seven goals in losses to both the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings so far, now host the high-scoring Colorado Avalanche.
The defending Stanley Cup champions finished fourth in the NHL last season with 3.76 goals per game and have scored eight goals in two games this season — a 5-2 win over Chicago and a 5-3 loss to Calgary.
“It’s great that we keep fighting back , but you’re right, we obviously can’t keep giving up seven goals a game” Evason said in a media availability session after a 7-6 loss to the Kings.
Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled on Saturday night after the Kings scored four goals in the first period, and the veteran — who joined the team at the trade deadline last season has surrendered —11 goals in two starts.
“It’s frustrating, embarrassing to give up so much so early in the season,” Fleury said during a postgame media availability after the Kings game. “I don’t blame (the fans), I boo myself. I was not good. I feel bad for the fans, I feel bad for my teammates. I’ve got to be better. I’ve got to step up. I’ve got to give our team a chance to win.”
The question is how worried should the Wild be about Fleury right now.
“We’re not worried,” Evason said. “Are we disappointed that some goals went in? He’s obviously extremely accountable. He’s a pro, he’s going to fight his way through it. He’s probably like everybody. He’s trying to do a little too much.
“Sometimes when you do that, you get a little out of position and you’re not yourself,” Evason said. “It’s not just him, there’s a lot of guys pushing — trying to do a little extra as opposed to just doing their job. We’ll get back to it and we’ll be OK.”
Saturday’s game tied a Wild franchise mark for most combined goals in a game and the 23 goals scored between teams in the Xcel Energy Center so far set a Minnesota mark for consecutive games. The previous record was 21 goals.
Matt Boldy and Zuccarello both had four points.
The Wild posted a 2-1-1 mark against the Avalanche last season, which included a sweep of both games in the Xcel Energy Center. Zuccarello and Kirill Kaprizov both finished with five points in the four regular-season matchups.
Minnesota is 33-21-5 in St. Paul in the all-time series against Colorado.
Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and four points against the Wild last year. He leads the the Avalanche with 15 goals and 44 points in 40 career games against Minnesota.