This could be long series for the Wild.
And by that, I mean, literally, a short series.
The Wild wasn’t remotely close to up to par tonight during an easy 4-0 series-opening win by the Dallas Stars.
The Wild gave Dallas six power play, registered no shots in the first 11:21, a franchise-playoff low two shots for a period in the first period and got nothing from its best offensive players that aren’t injured.
Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker had one shot each, Charlie Coyle none. That was the Wild’s first line, one that likely won’t be together in Game 2, coach John Torchetti indicated.
Torchetti noted that Chris Porter was the Wild’s best forward, which, with all due respect to Porter, is a big problem.
Here’s some postgame quotes, and you can read the gamer and all the coverage on startribune.com/wild:
Torchetti (my thanks to NHL.com’s Steve Hunt for the transcription)
On how tough it is to score right now
“Well, we got to buy into the commitment of shooting the puck. We got to still get to 70 shot attempts. They did a good job in their gaps at the blue line and we didn’t get pucks behind them or try to rim them and make them go back for anything. Need more commitment from that moving forward for Game 2, but three of the goals we had the puck. That’s the bottom line. We got to make sure we manage the puck a lot better. Third goal was a big goal, it was still a 2-0 game and we were doing OK. Faceoff play, we got to do a better job.”
On his frustration with turnovers
“Yeah, it’s frustrating. It’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, that’s how you got to play the game. If you want to be on offense, you got to put pucks in behind. They’re going to stay gapped up in the neutral zone on us until we want to make sure we’re chipping it. We got to make sure. The first goal, it’s a neutral zone play. When they’re gapped up, just put it behind them and let’s get to work.”
On Coyle having no shots, Zucker and Koivu with one shot each
“No [that’s not going to cut it], probably have to mix, match a little bit more our lines here, but we’ve got to get more from everybody. Our best forward was [Chris] Porter tonight and [Jared] Spurgeon was our best D, so we need more. [Dubnyk] was pretty good, kept us in the game. Just can’t give them so many power-play chances.”
On feeling good after one with it being 0-0
“Yeah, well we’re not OK about the penalties, that’s for sure, but in knowing how powerful their power play is, but especially even the goal we gave up, we won the faceoff. We’ve got to do a better job of managing there and then we got to find whoever that was boxing out in front on that goal, we got to box him out so he doesn’t get a rebound chance because there was only one guy in there within 10 feet of the net, so we got to make sure we identify him and box out.”
On if he was surprised at how difficult offensive chances were in the first period
“No, it didn’t help with the kills. I think we got our power play early. We didn’t get what we wanted and then we had three kills I think it was. You can’t do that. You’re not getting a flow. You’ve got probably five forwards that probably didn’t even skate during that six minutes out of the eight on the kill, they’re lucky if they got 40 seconds like [Niederreiter], [Pominville] now their feet aren’t going, [Jones], so we got to be disciplined there. We can’t be giving them opportunities when we don’t need to. Unless it’s a goal-scoring chance, we can’t be taken anything in the offensive zone or into the neutral zone.”
Basically, as Dubnyk said, the Wild got into an odd-man rush game with the Stars in the second period after Dubnyk saved the Wild’s bacon in the first period when the Wild was outshot 14-2 and out-attempted 30-8. The scoring chances were 8-0 in part because the Wild was outchanced 8-0.
After the game, Jason Pominville actually said the Wild wasn’t far off.
In the second, Jarret Stoll turned the puck over en route to one goal, then the Wild began mismanaging the puck left and right and got some erratic play from a number of players, especially Marco Scandella and Matt Dumba on Jason Spezza’s pretty awesome second goal.
The Wild was toast from there.
More Wild quotes
Their special teams were better than ours. We didn’t find a way to generate much early, and they defended hard, and we'll make adjustments and be better.
They were making it tough in-zone. We didn't use the net as much as we usually do, and weren't able to get as much zone-time as we usually do. They pressured hard once we were in the zone, and they had good layers, and supported each other well. They made it tough on us, but as well as they played, we have to better, and we know that, and we'll regroup, and hopefully be better.
Execution is a part of finding ways to create offense, and when the execution is a little off, you get the results that we had tonight. But again, we have to regroup, it's one game, we didn’t expect it to be easy, and it's not going to be easy. We have to find a way to sharpen up and be better.
I don't think we had too many shifts where we had sustained pressure for a length of time. There were two or three that I can remember, and that's not enough. We have to definitely make it harder on Lehtonen in Game 2. We have to take some good things out of here, take some bad things out of here, and learn from them, and be better in Game 2.
Just handling the puck better, and being sharper with it. Three of their goals we had it on our stick, and it ended up in our net. The first one was my bad, and then the other two, we had the puck probably 10 or 15 seconds before the goal. That can't happen, and we'll be better that way.
We knew that was going to be the challenge with Dallas. That's a good hockey team over there, and they've scored a lot of goals. They generate a lot of chances, and that's going to be the series going forward here. We just can't get into the odd-man rush game with them. In the second period that's what we did, and we ended up the wrong side of a 2-0 game. If we stick to our game, which might be frustrating for them, but just keep working and working, and not give them those rushes that they're looking for. We're just fine.
There's definitely spots. The most important thing is we have to understand that we can play with these guys; we can beat these guys. There's no reason to think otherwise. We're going to have to be better than we were tonight, for sure, but if there's anybody in here that thinks we can't beat them, they shouldn't. We've shown it, and we've got the guys in here. We'll go out and have a good day tomorrow, and we know what to expect on Saturday, and we'll be ready to go.
The second period, the further we went, we got a little bit more offense there, we got a little bit more shots, and momentum that way. And that's what we need: to get pucks to the net, and get some guys there. We can't just stay outside, and hoping that it's going to come from there. Goals are made from in front of the net, and we need traffic. We have to get pucks through, and it is the simple things, and we didn't do that tonight.
It is the simple things. We did a little bit better toward the end there, but like I said, we need more traffic in front of him, and we need more pucks through, and find those rebounds around that net. It's playoffs, and every team defends well, so that's the only way to get offense. I'm sure after we get traffic, and we get shots, it will open up somewhere. Before that, like I said, we have to simplify and get to the areas that you score goals.
Game 2 is 7 p.m. Saturday. The Wild’s got an uphill climb.
Talk to you after Friday’s practice.