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From the Rink: Wild hopes to turn scoring chances into goals

Minnesota begins four-game road trip in Boston on Monday in search of more offense

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

BOSTON -- The fine line between scoring chances and scoring goals in the NHL can be next to impossible to differentiate.

While a team's offensive prowess can sometimes run week-to-week, it can and often does run game-to-game or even period-to period.

Take Minnesota's recent six-game homestand. 

Twice, the Wild scored six goals in a game. And twice, Minnesota was shut out.

The one thing that was relatively stable during the stretch of games at home was the Wild's ability to create quality scoring chances. Consistently finishing those chances and converting them into goals on the scoreboard was at times a problem.

Minnesota's 3-3 record on the season-long six-game homestand bared those results out.

Video: Wild pregame at Boston

"You just have to bear down," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "When you get that open net and you the chance, the great goal scorers bear down and make sure they put it right through the net and not try to be cute."

For whatever reason, the Wild was unable to accomplish that enough at home. Now it will shift its focus to the road, where the Wild begins a four-game road trip in Boston against the Bruins. 

"We've gotta keep doing it and getting those chances," said Wild forward Mikael Granlund. "At the end of the day, they're gonna go in. We've gotta play the right way, a hard [game] and we're going to get those chances. Eventually, we're going to break a couple of those."

Often times, it's simply a matter of scoring one that can help open the floodgates. Granlund, who will skate in his eighth game on Monday, has yet to score a goal this season after finishing second on the club with 26 goals last year.

Granlund started last season by going through an eight-game goal drought before scoring three goals in the following five goals. Around mid-season, he went through a nine-game dry spell before scoring five in the next six. 

Sometimes, that's just the frustrating part about scoring goals.

"You get one and suddenly they start going in," Granlund said. "We've had a few games where we've been generating a lot of chances but they haven't gone in. The odds are, they'll go next time. You just have to trust it, play the right way and get your chances. Maybe you get lucky and get a goal or two."

Boston will be without several of its top offensive players on Monday as Brad Marchand will miss tonight's game with an upper-body injury while David Krejci is expected to miss another week of action, also because of an upper-body injury.

The loss of Marchand, the team's leading goal scorer and point producer, looms especially large.

The Bruins will also be without Spring Lake Park native and former Minnesota State star David Backes, who will miss eight weeks after surgery last week to remove part of his colon (diverticulitis). 

When asked by a local reporter about Minnesota's early-season injury problems, Boudreau lamented their absence on the power play and special teams, but also said things could be a lot worse than its current state.

"We have two top-six forwards out," Boudreau said. "But who are we [to complain]? Boston has everybody out. You're not going to hear me complain. It is what it is."

Here are the projected lineups:

WILD

Nino Niederreiter - Eric Staal - Luke Kunin

Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund

Marcus Foligno - Joel Eriksson Ek - Chris Stewart

Tyler Ennis - Matt Cullen - Daniel Winnik

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba

Kyle Quincey - Mike Reilly

Devan Dubnyk

Alex Stalock

BRUINS

Anders Bjork - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk - Jordan Szwarz - Frank Vatrano

Matt Beleskey - Riley Nash - Austin Czarnik

Tim Schaller - Sean Kuraly - Danton Heinen

Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo

Rob O'Gara - Kevan Miller

Tuukka Rask

Anton Khudobin

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