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2015-16 Wild Season Preview: Special Teams

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild



With the Minnesota Wild's 2015-16 season beginning on Thursday with a game against the Avalanche in Colorado, Wild.com is breaking down different elements of the team entering the season.

Read part 1 of the preview: Forwards
Read part 2 of the preview: Defensemen
Read part 3 of the preview: Goalies

The Wild's penalty kill led the League in 2014-15 at 86.3%. Minnesota also did a good job staying out of the box, facing 234 shorthanded situations, tied for seventh-fewest in the League.

Conversely, the Wild power play was 27th in the League, scoring on 15.8% of its opportunities.

One player who was used on the power play last season was Matt Dumba, who was third behind Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon in power-play time for Wild defensemen.

"I want to bring my shot," Dumba said. "Besides that, I want to get the puck in the hands of the skill guys who are going to make those plays and see the ice, and just distribute the puck.

" … That's the thing I worked on a lot this summer: my shot, my one-timer, just making sure that's as smooth as possible, and dialing that in. I feel really confident right now, so hopefully it just keeps coming."

Zach Parise led the team with 11 power play goals in 2014-15, and Nino Niederreiter scored six. The two forwards accounted for 47% of the Wild's power play goals, while the Wild tried to find units that could produce goals.

The power play did pick up its pace during Minnesota's victory in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues, scoring on four of their 12 opportunities.

"We did a good job … last year especially in the playoffs, just finding those lanes and getting the puck to the net," Dumba said. " … The energy and everything that we had in the second half of the season can definitely roll over."

A point of emphasis this offseason has been getting traffic toward the net front, and using a player in the middle of the zone to help soften the opposing penalty kill.

The net-front presence led to power-play success in the preseason: the Wild scored on six of its 20 power-play chances.

"If it's an area where you can go to score goals and get rewarded, guys will be willing to go there," Jason Pominville said. "If it's not you, it's going to be someone else, and it creates traffic, creates rebounds, and creates opportunities for the guys on the ice."

One of the keys is maintain puck possession long enough to station a player in front. That's where using a player in the middle of the zone can buy time.

"That's a big thing that a lot of teams are doing and we want to get better and, and do more," Pominville said. "If you use the middle guy just for a touch it kind of settles things down, and they can't be as aggressive."

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