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RandBall: A dangerous time for the Wild

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • March 18, 2014 - 9:05 AM

With 16 games remaining in last year's labor-shortened season, the Wild had a record of 20-10-2. Minnesota was cruising toward a playoff spot, riding a seven-game winning streak.

And then things started to fall apart. The Wild endured a 4-8-1 stretch that had them teetering on the brink of missing the playoffs altogether, then won two of its final three to sneak in as a No. 8 seed before getting hammered by Chicago. In seven of those losses down the stretch, Minnesota scored one goal or fewer.

It's simple, but when this team struggles it's usually because the offense can't put the puck in the net. That's what makes the recent stretch this year particularly vexing. Minnesota hasn't topped three goals in a game in any of its last 12. It's still managed to bank 16 points in that stretch, a testament to goaltending and at least extending games into overtime to steal points.

But with eight of its next 11 games still on the road before finishing up with three at home -- two of those home games against Boston and St. Louis, among the finest teams in the NHL -- the Wild will need to break out of old habits and put some pucks in the net. Minnesota is still in good shape playoffs-wise, with an 83 percent chance of making it. But that number could slip, and if it does, the offense will be the likely culprit.

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