Wild GM hopes for better shooting, more confidence

Sunday, 01.31.2016 / 5:19 PM | Dan Rosen  - NHL.com Senior Writer

NASHVILLE -- General manager Chuck Fletcher's preference would be to let the Minnesota Wild play their way out of a month-long slump before he seriously goes in search for outside help before the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 29.

The Wild went 3-7-3 with 23 goals in January. They dropped to one point behind the Nashville Predators for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. They were in the first position with a seven-point cushion at the start of 2016.

"I think we're dealing with mainly a confidence issue," Fletcher said. "Hopefully the break will help. We have a lot of players who have scored in this league that just did not score last month."

The one stat Fletcher is focused on most is Minnesota's shooting percentage. It was 6.0 percent in January after being 9.6 percent through the first 36 games of the season. The decline happened despite the Wild averaging one more shot on goal per game (29.3-28.3) in January than they did in the first three months.

The Wild were averaging 2.7 goals per game entering January; they averaged 1.8 goals per game in the month.

"Our shooting percentage just plummeted," Fletcher said.

Meanwhile, their save percentage (.927) was better in January than it was in the first three months (.921). They also allowed fewer shots on goal per game in January (28.3) as opposed to the first three months (28.9).

"Winning three games in a month is a bad month, but we're still right in the playoff picture," Fletcher said.

But how do the Wild climb back up the standings to get into a playoff position, and can they do it without Fletcher having to make a significant trade?

Fletcher thinks they can, particularly, he said, if they develop a better net-front presence and more of a shoot-first mentality on the power play.

"There are things we need to do internally," Fletcher said. "The shot charts aren't radically different, but there was enough of a change there that it shows us we gotta get back to being what we are, particularly on the power play. We just have to take more shots with traffic."

Do that and he doesn't think he'll have to do anything radical before the calendar flips to March.

"Really our focus has gotta be on getting the group back and everybody playing," Fletcher said. "You go back to Dec. 31 and we were just under 2.8 goals per game. That's a good level. I'd love to be at 3.5, but 2.8 is enough. That's where we were, and this past month we just fell right off. I believe the answers are within that room to score more goals."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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