Star Tribune

Russo blog: Wild continues to have trouble scoring

The Wild had tons of chances again, yet fell to 1-2-3 since the trade deadline with a loss at Boston

Blog post by: Michael Russo

Updated: March 17, 2014 - 10:29 PM

When you don’t score easily, the room for error is so miniscule, and that was on display again by the Wild in tonight’s 4-1 loss at Boston.

Read the gamer for all the details and the better quotes. Just a quick blog because I need to get some shut-eye before an early flight to New Yawk.

The Wild came out the right way, and as Bruins forward Chris Kelly said, the Wild was handling the puck well, skated well, “they were moving their feet extremely well and we weren’t.”

In a scoreless first, the Wild outchanced the Bruins, but Tuukka Rask put on a display that continued in the second.

But with the Wild taking the play to Boston, Jarome Iginla took a shot that nicked Jonas Brodin’s hip. Darcy Kuemper seemed to lose the puck until it dipped in his crease. By then it was too late.

Eight minutes later, Nino Niederreiter stole the puck near the Wild blue line. He gave it to Kyle Brodziak, but he didn’t get the puck out and Carl Soderberg took the puck right off his stick.

To compound problems, every Wild defender watched Soderberg skate around the net. That left Loui Eriksson wide open, and the prolific third-line connected when Soderberg fed Eriksson for the easy 2-0 lead.

Jason Pominville scored late in the second to make it a game, but the proficient Bruins showed how balanced they are when Reilly Smith scored off Patrice Bergeron’s rebound in the third.

Look at Boston’s balanced scoring, look at the Bruins’ plus-minuses. They just roll line after line at you and any line can contribute.

The Wild is the absolute opposite. The Parise-Granlund-Pominville line has scored 14 goals and 37 points in the past 13 games. The rest of the team has 17 goals in that span.

This team just hasn’t found the right mix since Mikko Koivu’s return from an ankle injury and Matt Moulson’s addition. The Wild is 1-2-3 since Moulson’s arrival, 2-2-3 since Koivu’s return. The offense that was supposed to improve with Moulson and Koivu in the lineup has dipped from 25th to 28th in the NHL.

Tonight, the Moulson-Koivu-Charlie Coyle line had four or five exceptional scoring chances.

The line didn’t score and finished minus-2.

So Yeo, who has kept the lines pretty consistent of late, indicated after this one that the Wild coaching staff will look at the lines tonight and may come up with “one, two, three” new lines Tuesday at the Islanders.

Honestly, one option would be to break apart the prolific Granlund line to spread out the wealth a bit and get a new mix because we have seen the Moulson-Koivu and Cooke-Brodziak duos aren’t scoring with either Charlie Coyle or Nino Niederreiter on the right. It’s really too bad Jason Zucker is hurt. This team could use some speed and energy.

But that would probably be beyond crazy to break apart the only line that’s creating something consistently every game.

“That’s the tricky part because they’ve been going so well,” Yeo said. “It’s up to us to try to figure out the right match.”

I’d start off by flipping Kyle Brodziak and Erik Haula. For a team that wanted to get three lines who can score, it’s not even getting two. At least the Koivu line created a bunch of chances tonight.

“We all have to contribute,” Coyle said. “We all know that. We generate chances, but it comes down to putting the puck in the net.”

Tough game. The Wild certainly worked hard and did a lot of things well. But it wasn’t sustained because when you have so much trouble scoring, I think there’s just a natural dip when the other team scores sometimes so easily.

As usual, the Wild was up against a great goaltending display. Rask made some awesome saves early and late. Sixteen of his 33 saves came in the third.

Onto Long Island. Ilya Bryzgalov should be in goal. This is a must win. The Isles have won twice in regulation at home since January.

The only game going right now that affects the Wild is Phoenix at LA. After 1, Coyotes lead 2-1. I have an early flight. Later.

Said defenseman Keith Ballard, “I don’t know if there’s a formula to score more goals. It always seems to fall back to get people to the net, create traffic and score on your second and third opportunities.”

This post is from the Russo's Rants blog

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