Poor Goaltending, Lack of Offense Continue to Doom Minnesota Wild
In the past four games, the Minnesota Wild have managed just five goals, including three consecutive losses in which they only scored once. Goaltender Niklas Backstrom continues to perform poorly, but isn’t exactly getting the offensive help he needs. Zach Parise and Dany Heatley started the season on a tear, but have been mostly absent in the past three losses. Add a lack of secondary scoring to that mixture, and it’s no surprise the Wild have seen their record level off to 4-5-1, placing them third in the Northwest Division.
The team brought winger Charlie Coyle up from the AHL and sent Darroll Powe to the New York Rangers for Mike Rupp, both moves that improved the team’s size up front. A defense lacking in experience has done what it can so far, and has the league’s 11th best penalty kill and 17th best goals against. With their star players up front not producing, Minnesota has fallen to 26th in the league in goals per game, and the team continues to feature a power play that is sporadic at best.
Rookie Mikael Granlund got off to a great start, but has since cooled. Consecutive losses to the Vancouver Canucks, Phoenix Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks have exposed many of Backstrom’s weaknesses in net, but since posting an early-season shutout, backup Josh Harding hasn’t looked good either. Prospect Matt Hackett looked decent in 12 appearances for the Wild last season, and the team also has Darcy Kuemper with the Houston Aeros of the AHL (9-6, 1.91 GAA).
If things continue the way they are, maybe a brief call-up for one of these two youngsters can shake up the team and put some fear into Backstrom and Harding. With the world of expectations they face this season, the current performance from the Wild just isn’t going to cut it.
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