The Minnesota Wild defeated the Winnipeg Jets Monday night and earned themselves two very important points. Barring an epic collapse, the Wild have clinched a playoff berth, but are they going to be able to make any damage once the postseason begins?
If they played like they did against the Jets, that answer is no. Fact is, the Wild have had issues all season producing offense, which will be detrimental against whomever they will be facing in the first round.
If the playoffs were to start tomorrow, the Wild would have the least amount of goals scored out of all 16 teams that would make it to the postseason. There are actually only four teams in the entire NHL that have scored fewer goals than the Wild this season.
Past years have shown that goaltending and solid team defense are crucial to winning the Stanley Cup, but those teams also had at least two offensive lines that consistently produced offense, which is something the Wild don’t have.
Jason Pominville and Zach Parise have respectable numbers – they’re tied for the team lead with 54 points this season – but they aren’t two players that are going to create huge problems for opposing teams. Pominville and Parise’s 54 points ties them for 59th in the NHL in scoring, which isn’t going to keep any opponent up at night thinking about how they are going to be contained in the postseason.
It’s good to see Ilya Bryzgalov play well and the Wild played good defense in front of him, but they also only had 17 shots on goal all night against the Jets, which included a mere four in the third period when the game mattered most.
The Wild did what they needed to do against the Jets; the two points on the line were too important to the Wild’s playoffs hopes to waste. Now they find themselves in a comfortable position with three games left on the schedule. The only way they would not make the playoffs now is for them to not earn a point in all three of their remaining games and the Phoenix Coyotes win all four of their remaining games — quite unlikely.
With the playoffs beginning on April 16, it wouldn’t be a terrible idea for the Wild to try some different line combinations and maybe discover some offensive depth that has been hiding in the roster.