Following Wild games, Content Coordinator Evan Sporer will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at the Wild's 1-0 loss against the Winnipeg Jets at Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild has scored four even-strength goals in its past four games, and five overall.
There are a lot of layers to that. On Friday, Connor Hellebyuck had a stellar performance for the Jets in goal, stopping 24 shots in all, with some good Wild chances mixed in.
"It's frustrating we're not scoring," Zach Parise said. "Offensively, it's just been not too exciting, or not to fun for us."
But on other nights, the Wild's inability to get anything going at even-strength in the context of also not getting much time on the power play has made it difficult to get anything going on the scoreboard.
The Wild's past few games, Head Coach Mike Yeo felt his team could have created more off the shot. Minnesota threw plenty of pucks at Hellebyuck on Friday, and certainly generated more than in the first two games of this homestand, but struggled to score.
"Obviously it's not clicking when you score five goals in four games, but sometimes simple is more, especially when we have a few guys struggling, including myself," Thomas Vanek said. "Just get pucks to the net, and get a couple of garbage goals, and get your confidence up that way."
Minnesota has not been out of any games because of how well it has played defensively. But on Friday, in a game the Wild was shut out for the first time this season, Minnesota wasn’t able to muster enough offense.
"Number one it's giving up the first goal in the game has been a very common trend," Yeo said. "For a team like that, it allows them on the road to try to lock it down, and play a very patient game, and puts us in kind of a press mode for the whole game.”
There are times when Charlie Coyle looks like a man possessed.
Coyle has been the topic of conversation a number of times this season because of how well he's played. Of late, his name has stayed in the conversation because of his consistency, and how well he's using his size.
There are moments like in the first period of the game on Friday when Coyle bounces off one Jet, spins off another, and then plays the puck through a few sets of legs, maintaining possession throughout.
Everything Coyle's doing looks like it has a purpose, and looks like a runaway freight train, which are both very good signs.
Trailing by a goal in the second period, the Wild was put in a tough spot killing off 54 seconds of a 5-on-3. But for the second time on this homestand, the Wild erased an extended 5-on-3 against, and did so in rather convincing fashion.
This time around, it was the trio of Marco Scandella, Jarret Stoll, and Chris Porter who were charged with defending the Wild's zone. And they did so effectively, with Porter intermittently applying high pressure to keep the Jets honest, and Scandella and Stoll patrolling the passing and shooting lanes, making sure the Jets were kept to the outside.
The 54 seconds came and went with Winnipeg registering a shot on goal, a pretty good indicator of how the penalty kill performed.
On the other end of the special teams spectrum, the Wild wanted to find itself on more power plays. With one in each of its past four games, Minnesota thought it could make things harder on its opponent and, in turn, draw more penalties.
In the first 10 minutes on Friday, the Wild drew two power plays by not giving the Jets time on the puck, and by using its speed. On the first penalty, Mikael Granlund got in on the forecheck with Tyler Myers in possession, forcing him into moving the puck quicker than he wanted, and ending in a delay of game penalty.
Just over two minutes later, Stoll took a headman pass, and broke past the Winnipeg defense, forcing Joel Armia to haul him down, and taking holding penalty.
Late in the third, Mikko Koivu used a nifty move to draw a tripping penalty on Alexander Burmistrov.
The Wild's power play, which finally got time to operate, did everything but score. But even with those improved chances, Yeo said it's not good enough.
"Even though we're not getting a lot, when you're not scoring on the power play, it affects guys,” Yeo said. “It affects confidence, it affects pressure, and so I've got to do a better job with that. I know that's an understatement, but we've got to find a way to create something here."
Right now, according to Yeo, the tangible results need to come.
"Our first couple of power plays was some good movement, some opportunities, but the puck is not going in, and that doesn't help," he said. "Right now we need a puck to go in the net."
Eight games into the year 2016, and the Wild has allowed 14 five-on-five goals.
Minnesota's defensive posture has stiffened, as the Wild, one of the better even-strength defensive teams in the NHL, hasn’t been giving up much.
The Wild's game always starts and ends with its defense, whether it's the play in its own end, or activating up ice to help offensively.
Another piece of this is the goaltending, as Devan Dubnyk has turned it on and been a stingy last line of defense. The Wild's forwards have also played a two-way game, structured in the neutral zone and forcing opposing teams to either dump pucks in or have to navigate through traffic.
"It's important not to get frustrated, and we're playing pretty well defensively, and that's the easy thing to allow to happen if you get a little frustrated at the other end," Dubyk said. "To kind of get away from what you're doing in your own end. That's going to be important for us to stick with that, and do our thing putting pucks in the net."
The total defensive product has closely aligned with how the Wild expects to play.