The question is where has that production been? Especially with five-on-five scoring.
Kirill Kaprizov’s power-play goal in the second period snapped a drought of just under 160 minutes, or roughly seven periods of hockey. The Wild were scoreless against the Seattle Kraken and also scoreless against the Los Angeles Kings.
With some key contributions out because of injury, the Wild are struggling tremendously at even strength to fill the net with pucks.
The Wild have struggled all season at scoring goals and are way down in terms of even-strength scoring. Up until the game against Seattle in St. Paul, the Wild were 22nd in the league in goals per 60 and after the two shutout losses they fell to 30th. Minnesota is only ahead of the St. Louis Blues, who are riding an eight-game losing streak, and the Chicago Blackhawks.
That is in contrast to last-year when the Wild flourished offensively and finished fourth in the league with 343 goals during the regular season.
What may have caused this lack of even-strength scoring? Well, the Wild have not been scoring from the back end or the bottom half of their lineup. Just one Wild defenseman has over seven points and that is rookie Calen Addison.
The Wild have been among the best in the league at getting scoring from the back end in the past few seasons and that has seemingly disappeared so far this year. Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, and Alex Goligoski all had over 30 points.
Even Matt Dumba and Dimitry Kulikov pitched in at least 24 or mor pointes. So far this year Spurgeon has five points, and Middleton has four. Dumba and Brodin have combined for four points and Goligoski has not found the scoresheet yet.
The Wild got heavy contributions from Freddy Gaudreau and Ryan Hartman and Marcus Foligno that were, umm, unexpected to say the least.
Foligno scoring over 40 points and potting 20 plus? I did not see it coming. You didn’t either, don’t lie. I don’t need to tell you that Hartman won’t score 30 goals again. He has lost his top-line center spot and in his place another player who outperformed his expectations in Gaudreau. Neither player has been bad this year but they just have not been as special as they were last year.
The Wild are currently playing without players that contributed over 140 goals last year. Not all of these players were highly effective or clocked a lot of time on ice but that is over 45% of the goals scored on the team last year. Did the Wild bank on players returning keeping up their scoring touch from last year too much? Maybe so.
Maybe the Wild have just faced really tough goaltending and are not getting the puck luck from the Hockey Gods, eh?
Well, the stats would suggest otherwise.
The Wild are only 26th in expected goals per 60 and they are a bottom-five team in shooting percentage. In the two shutout losses, the Wild did not face stellar goalies. For the Kings, Johnathan Quick has not been his usual self and so far this year he has a sub .900 save percentage and a GSAA at -2.5.
In the crease for Seattle, Martin Jones who has been rather pedestrian posting a .907 save percentage and a 0.5 GSAA. Not numbers that blow you away by any stretch of the imagination.
Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello have been their usual selves and Kaprizov returns after being booted from the Kings game.
If there was any team to get right again it was the Ducks.
The Ducks entered Wednesday first in the league at shots allowed per game and third in the league in goals allowed. Their goaltending is middle of the road so far this year. They are a very young team defensively so look for the Wild to forecheck hard in this one.
The Wild also got a chance to say hello to their old friend, Kulikov.
Wild youngster Adam Beckman was slotted lineup against the Ducks, and through eight games in Iowa, he has six points. Three of those points have been goals and he looks to inject some much-needed energy into the Wild lineup.
The Wild have been good on the power play but you can’t rely on that for all your goals. The even-strength goal-scoring needs to improve if this team wants to go anywhere this year.
-All Stats Via Evolving Hockey and Hockey Reference