The Minnesota Wild have something they haven’t had in a long time–or perhaps ever in their franchise history: expectations.
Signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will do that to you. While they haven’t looked like a Western Conference power to this point, they’re sitting pretty over .500 here early in the season and look to gain some momentum after a big win at home on Wednesday night.
The bigger story wasn’t so much the win as it was that the top line didn’t have to do it all. Since Opening Night, the Wild only had one goal scored by a forward that wasn’t by their top trio of Parise, Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley. Just one goal since the first game of the season.
As good as the top line is–probably top three in the West easily–that doesn’t bode well for their future if they can’t get it going with the other nine guys up front. That issue took a step in the right direction on Wednesday as the top line didn’t have to put the puck in the net at all, or at least for goals that counted on the stat sheet.
While the top line was mostly stifled by the Chicago blue line, with the exception of a few chances, the Wild finally got some scoring outside of those three.
Matt Cullen scored the first goal 90 seconds into the game to give the 1-0 lead off of a Mikael Granlund rebound. That edge was eventually squandered by Josh Harding, who was pulled after allowing two goals on four shots.
Cal Clutterbuck came through early in the third period with a redirected goal off of a Tom Gilbert shot. Each goal was the first of the season for the respective player that scored it. That helped to set up Zach Parise and Cullen for the shootout goals and the extra point.
If the Wild want to be successful this season, they’re going to need a whole lot more of that. Their top line may be among the best in the game, but even they can’t do it all alone every night.