3. Offensive production has been wildly inconsistent
Last season, Bruce Boudreau brought his offensive magic to the Wild. It propelled the once offensively challenged Wild to one of the most complete teams in the NHL. Well, so far it’s safe to say that the magic has worn off. And boy, do the Wild need a new spark from its top guys.
The most productive player on the Wild so far this season has been defenseman Jared Spurgeon, with eight assists and 10 points in 13 games. Don’t get me wrong, these are fantastic numbers for Spurgeon. He deserves to lead the team in points as he’s been arguably the most complete player thus far.
The question is, where is the production from the top six forwards? What happened to the hot starts for rookies Joel Eriksson-Ek and Luke Kunin? The Wild’s top tier players have disappeared. Yes, the Wild may not have a superstar among the likes of Chicago’s Patrick Kane or Tampa Bay’s dynamic combo of Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, but one would hope the stars they have would show up more in big games.
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Here’s how some of the Wild’s top forwards have fared in their past five games:
Eric Staal, Mikko Koivu, and Tyler Ennis: one goal each. Jason Zucker, who should be salivating over the available ice time due to injuries, instead has one assist in his past five games and was demoted to third-line duty against Boston.
Oh, and the Wild’s prized rookies? Eriksson-Ek has been completely invisible on the score sheet in his past five, and has a measly three points in 12 games. And if it weren’t for Kunin’s fight against Matt Beleskey on Monday, you wouldn’t have known if he was a healthy scratch or not. Kunin started off playing well, but now has one goal and no assists in his past five games.
How about Mikael Granlund’s return from injury? It took him seveb games to score his first goal.
On a team with injuries to key forwards Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle, one would expect these forwards to dig deeper. Every team goes through injuries to key players. It’s how those teams play without their best players that defines them.