Minnesota Wild: What’s wrong with the Wild?

ST PAUL, MN - OCTOBER 31: Mikko Koivu (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
ST PAUL, MN - OCTOBER 31: Mikko Koivu (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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ST PAUL, MN – OCTOBER 31: Ryan Suter (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
ST PAUL, MN – OCTOBER 31: Ryan Suter (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

1. Defensive coverage has been brutal

Ok, if you’re not an avid watcher of the Wild and wanted to check the goals against (GA) category on NHL.com, you would see that the Wild ranks 10th in the league with 40 GA.

Not bad, right? On paper, maybe. But if you were to dissect each game and see the types of goals the Wild are giving up, you’d certainly reconsider.

Too often, the Wild are allowing chances from high percentage areas. And it is costing them, big time. Let’s take a look at the Bruin’s third goal Monday night for example:

This type of goal just simply cannot happen if the Wild expects to win games. Tim Schaller easily evades a lunging Nino Niederreiter at the blueline. Keep in mind Niederreiter was covering for defenseman Mike Reilly, who pinched in the offensive zone.

With Niederreiter beat, Schaller now has a two-on-one with Danton Heinen against Kyle Quincey. To Quincey’s credit, his intention was clear:  He was trying to take the pass away.

OK, he took a spill – not your ideal coverage scenario, but hey, Schaller was forced to take a shot from a low-percentage area. He’d have to go short-side, and with a giant Devan Dubnyk in net it’s unlikely Schaller is scoring from that angle.

Now this is when it gets bad.

Reilly catches up to the play a few feet inside the blueline. Does he pick up the streaming Heinen? Nope. In fact, he had such a great view of the play he might as well have stuck himself in the front row of TD Garden. It wouldn’t have made a difference considering Heinen skated in untouched and got a solid rebound chance off of Schaller’s shot, in a high-percentage scoring area.

Now, time to move on to Tyler Ennis. To Ennis’ credit, he’s in the perfect area during his backcheck. Not to Ennis’ credit, he quite honestly appears to have no idea that he should pick up eventual goal scorer Sean Kuraly.

Boom: Defensive Coverage 101, the simple man-on-man coaching that kids learn when they’re 9 or 10 years old.

Instead, Ennis goes for Heinen after he has already shot and is on the side of the net. Kuraly is untouched, and now it’s 3-1 Bruins.

A shot that started in a low percentage area suddenly ends up in front of the net and then behind Dubnyk.

This is just one example of the many defensive zone miscues that have plagued the Wild so far.  And it’s costing them in games big time. In my mind, the only game where the Wild have been a complete, sound defensive team, was the 2-1 win against Pittsburgh Oct. 28. One game out of 13 isn’t a sexy stat-line for a team that was among the best defensively last year.