A revamped Wild power play amid defenseman Matt Dumba’s absence because of injury hasn’t made a dazzling debut, going without a goal in its first three games sans Dumba.
But the new-look units also haven’t had much opportunity to find a rhythm. They have received just five chances in that span, a drop-off coach Bruce Boudreau said the team can reverse by pushing the play to the middle of the ice.
“If you play on the perimeter, there’s no reason for anybody to haul you down,” Boudreau said. “But if you go on the inside and you get ahead of them, they’ve got time to hook you.”
The Wild didn’t receive a power play Tuesday against the Sharks, the third time that’s happened this season. After receiving three tries Saturday in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Stars at Xcel Energy Center, two of which were in succession amid a four-minute advantage, the team had received 108 power plays this season — which ranked 20th in the NHL.
Dumba, who had a team-high 12 power-play points when he was injured, was a key catalyst with the man advantage, finding an effective shooting area on the left side of the offensive zone.
Even though he’s no longer an option, getting sidelined with an upper-body injury that’s expected to require surgery, Boudreau is still encouraged by the way the Wild has been moving the puck during the setup.
“We get great looks,” he said. “If we’re on, we’re scoring. If we’re not, we’re getting great looks and we just gotta continue what we’re doing and hopefully eventually they’ll go in.”
While Wild players acknowledged how difficult it’ll be to play without Dumba while he recovers, they also mentioned how tough it is for Dumba to be subtracted from the team’s push after having such a successful start to the season.
“He’s probably our MVP this year,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “He’s a big loss for us. As a friend, he’s a guy that wants to be out there. He wants to be a key difference. He wants to be in every situation and be with the guys. So it’s just disappointing that he’s going to have to miss some time here having the year that he was.”
After scoring his second goal in three games Thursday, winger Jordan Greenway has six on the season. All but one of them has opened the scoring for the Wild.
That early reward, though, hasn’t always instigated more shot attempts by Greenway. Those two goals, against the Penguins and Flames, were his only shots on net in those games despite coming in the first half.
“It’s a little bizarre,” Boudreau said. “But all we can do is keep reinforcing to him, ‘Look at the results when you shoot the puck,’ and we do that with a lot of guys.”
When the Wild reconvenes after a four-day holiday hiatus, it’ll continue a stretch of three straight games against the Central Division — its first extended action against its rivals this season.
“Our fate is going to be playing against our division,” Boudreau said, “because we got an awful lot of games against them after Christmas. It’s how we do against them that’s going to [affect] how we do in the end.”
The timing of the break could be particularly helpful for the Wild, giving it an opportunity to recharge amid recent struggles.
While defenseman Jared Spurgeon, winger Marcus Foligno and Dubnyk are staying put in the Twin Cities, Greenway is traveling to New York to spend the time off with his family.
“The last month has been not the ideal month for us,” Greenway said. “So I think maybe going home and getting away from the game for a couple days, kind of resetting your mind and your body, I think for us will be good.”
Eriksson Ek sits
Winger J.T. Brown subbed in for center Joel Eriksson Ek against the Stars.
Through 27 games, Eriksson Ek has one goal and four points.
“He’s got everything going for him, but we gotta get a little more playmaking and offense from him,” Boudreau said. “He plays 14 minutes a night, and it’s just something in his development. He’s gotta get a little more offense to his game.”