The dream start for the Minnesota Wild came crashing down to earth last night. As they were losing at home to the Colorado Avalanche the Vancouver Canucks passed them for first place in the Northwest Division.
Has reality finally settled in on the Wild?
If it seems like just two weeks ago the Wild were leading the NHL and the first team to win 20 games, it is because it was just two weeks ago. Since then they have gone 3-5-2 and find themselves looking up at the league favorites in the standings.
How did they get here?
Granted they are dealing with some injuries, most notably to newly acquired Devin Setoguchi, but perhaps this fall from grace was inevitable.
If you have not seen the Wild play yet this year, you are missing a team that relies on a gritty fore check and collapsing defense. They have also been getting stellar goaltending from the combination of Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding.
That style of play has them fourth in the NHL in goals allowed and was the main reason for their start.
What you also see watching Wild games is a team that is challenged offensively. They are 28th in the league in goals scored and are often out shot by their opponents. They average giving up 32 shots a game while mustering an average of 26.4 themselves.
With those numbers it seems unlikely that they were going to keep up their pace so this stumble should not be too surprising.
The Wild brought in Setoguchi and Dany Heatley to help an offense that was anemic last year. It has yet to result in an improvement and when Klye Brodziak is your leading goal scorer, it is a sign that your offense needs to step it up.
Statistics can be misleading and since hockey is not played on the stat sheet the Wild were defying logic and winning close games, despite their struggles to score.
Statistics however, can show trends and usually those trends lead to accurate predictors of success; or in this case, the lack of success.
Does this mean that the Minnesota Wild are dead in the water?
While right now they are struggling, they are still a tough team to play and should be considered a team that might make a playoff push.
With the trade deadline approaching, the Wild should be in the hunt to pick up some offense. If the Wild management were to make a big splash with a trade the Wild could become very dangerous.
The Nashville Predators have proven that you can get to the Stanley Cup Playoffs without a great offense. However, that lack of fire power has been their undoing and it will be Minnesota’s as well if they don’t take action.
If the Wild want to be serious contenders they will need more than a statistical defying start, they will need some goal scorers to turn those numbers around. Otherwise their fall will become greater and greater.