By Craig D. Schroepfer (@CDSWCCO)
Former NHL coach Barry Melrose had a saying during the Stanley Cup Playoffs that goes, “This time of year your best players have to be your best players.”
So if you want to break down what is wrong with the Minnesota Wild this post-season, you can start right there.
The Wild lost game three to St. Louis 3-1 and now are facing the reality of getting swept. You would think that after dropping the first two games in St. Paul that the Wild would come out on the road and play with a sense of urgency.
Instead, the first period had all the intensity of a Tuesday night game in mid-November.
Minnesota played with little to no urgency in the first period and was out-shot 15-9. And, as in the previous two games, the Blues scored first on a Colton Parayko wrist shot from the top of the circle, leaving the Wild to chase the lead once again.
The most frustrating thing about this series is that the best players for Minnesota in the regular season have made little to no impact through the first three games.
Zach Parise has been the leading scorer this post-season for the Wild, but that’s not an impressive stat when you have two of the only three goals scored in the series.
Here’s a look at the top scorers for the Wild during the regular season and what they have done in this playoff series.
Mikael Granlund (26 goals, 43 assists) – one assist; Eric Staal (28 goals, 37 assists) – one assist; Mikko Koivu (18 goals, 40 assists) – one assist; Nino Niederreiter (25 goals, 32 assists) – no points; Jason Zucker (22 goals, 25 assists)- no points; Charlie Coyle (18 goals, 38 assists)- one goal.
Only six players on the Wild have a point in this series. With that lack of production, it’s no surprise that Minnesota is down three games to none.
The frustrating thing about this is that the players mentioned above haven’t played bad in the series. It’s just that the Wild haven’t been able to get quality scoring chances thanks to the Blues defense taking away space on the ice when they are in transition and they aren’t making Jake Allen work very hard for his saves.
On the other end of the ice, Devan Dubnyk has played decent in net for Minnesota and has given them a chance to win each game.
Yes, there is a goal or two where you can make the argument that Dubnyk should have made the save. But when you are only giving up two goals in each game played, it’s hard to fault the goaltender for the team’s struggles.
So where do the Wild go from here?
You can forget about winning the series at this point. Yes, it’s mathematically possible as we have seen teams rally from 3-0 down twice in the last eight years to win a seven game series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But Minnesota is far away from being in that position.
What the Wild need to do is just try to win a period. Minnesota needs to get a lead on St. Louis and take it from there. The mindset going into Game 4 should be let’s try to get one more game back home.
The good news for Minnesota is that Game 4 of the series won’t resume until Wednesday night, so they will have an extra day to prepare.
And boy could the Wild use that extra day right now.