If we play like this, we’ll win our fair share of games.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Then it all came apart in two minutes and 41 seconds. Two Sharks goals in that time frame and the Wild came apart at the seams.
Four goals in the span of ten minutes left the Wild reeling and, just as in Los Angeles, in a hole that they couldn’t dig their way out of—finding themselves down by a score of 4-2.
With injuries to two of their top-six forwards (Cal Clutterbuck and Petr Sykora), the Wild were forced to skate just nine skaters for most of the second and all of the third period. Late in the game, the team was exhausted and it showed on the ice.
Factor in that the team is already missing two of their regulars (Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Derek Boogaard) and there is a bleak outlook for the remainder of this road trip.
“I’m proud of the way the guys played tonight,” Wild coach Todd Richards told reporters. “I’m disappointed we lost 4-2, but we did a lot of good things.”
While this may be true, this is not the start that Wild fans envisioned from their new, shiny “up tempo” attack.
The Wild are in the last half of the league for goals for (25th) and in the last half for goals against (28th)—something that the team is not used to. The teams is giving up just under four goals per game on just over 27 shots per game.
Apparently Lemaire was on to something.
I get that the new management wants to play entertaining hockey, and I truly do respect that. But Wild fans are learning the first of Newton’s laws right now. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The reins have been taken off and, suddenly, the defensive responsibility is gone. The team is making horrific passes, with 35 giveaways in four games. While the team is vastly outshooting their opponents, they are still not scoring. The team is succeeding in the faceoff circle, yet can’t do anything with the puck once they get it.
The fact is that it’s still early in the season with a team that is still trying to get used to one another. With the exception of Marc-Andre Bergeron, all of the players that the team lost had been with the team for at least two years. You can’t lose that much familiarity without losing some chemistry.
This new Wild team is showing flashes.
The third period on Tuesday night’s game against Anaheim. The second period on Thursday’s against Los Angeles. The first half of Saturday’s game against San Jose.
All signs that this team is headed in the right direction; it’s just going to take some time to get where they are going.