Souhan: If Wild scorers aren't scoring, it's a problem

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 5, 2014 - 12:05 PM

– The dressing area of the Wild’s locker room at United Center was mostly empty when visitors arrived after the game on Sunday afternoon. Nameplates had been removed from the lockers, prompting those not familiar with the team to ask which player was Zach Parise.

That’s not surprising. In seven playoff games over the past two seasons, the Chicago Blackhawks have rendered the Wild’s stars anonymous.

Sunday, the Blackhawks beat the Wild 4-1, taking a 2-0 lead in the series. They held the Wild to two shots in the first period and four in the third. More important, Chicago’s defense made the Wild’s best offensive players look as if they were too stuffed with deep-dish pizza and Goose Island ale to function.

“We recognize we have to create more to be a better team,” captain Mikko Koivu said. “I thought we did that in the second and the third. We have to find another notch to create, but then to score goals, too. It’s not easy. That’s a tough team defensively and their goaltender is playing very well right now. We have to find it. We have to be better around their net and find those pucks.”

Cody McCormick scored the Wild’s only goal, with beautiful assists from Erik Haula and Clayton Stoner, and that play was not as much an aberration as you would think. The Wild’s checking lines have outperformed their money players in the first two games.

“It’s a team game,” Parise said.

And the team pays some players to score. That’s what all the zeros at the end of the check symbolize — pucks in nets.

The Wild’s three leading point-producers during the regular season were Jason Pominville, Parise and Koivu. The team added Matt Moulson at the trading deadline to improve its scoring. The Blackhawks have made that foursome look like toothless checkers.

In seven playoff games against Chicago over the past two seasons, Koivu has produced zero points. His plus-minus rating is minus-9. Parise has produced two points. His rating is minus-10.

Pominville, who was injured during last year’s playoffs, has produced one assist in two games against the Blackhawks this year and is minus-2. Moulson, who looks as if he would rather hitch a ride on the nearest Zamboni than skate, has not produced a point and is minus-2 in this series.

“We’ve got to generate more offense,” forward Charlie Coyle said. “We can’t just have a couple chances and think we’re going to score and win.”

Parise and Koivu combined for five shots, with Parise bouncing a shot off Chicago goalie Corey Crawford that almost blooped in. Pominville managed as many shots on goal as Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov — zero.

“They’re good,” Parise said of the Blackhawks. “They play a good defensive system, they’re mobile on D, they block a lot of shots, they’re so good with the puck, they make good plays and they spring their forwards, and I think we can probably do a better job against them, making them work more.”

The Wild’s mantra entering this series was that it had become a better team in the last year, which is demonstrably true in many ways, but the Blackhawks did not get the memo.

With Moulson disappearing, Pominville struggling and Parise and Koivu failing to score, the Blackhawks looked primed to coast through a playoff series with the Wild for the second consecutive season.

Wild coach Mike Yeo said his staff will try to put his players in better positions in Game 3. He said his team looked tired Sunday, so he’s giving the players the day off Monday. He juggled lines again on Sunday, and might look for some unusual combinations going forward.

None of which will matter if Parise, Koivu and Pominville can’t score.

The Wild has produced three goals in this series — by Stoner, Kyle Brodziak and McCormick. The Wild will not beat the defending champs with Bryzgalov in goal and its best scorers firing wide of the net.

The Wild might not even beat the Blackhawks with its best players firing at the corners, but it’s worth a try.

 

Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Wild loses again, comes home down by two games

    Sunday May 4, 2014

    The Blackhawks elevated their play after feeling the Wild outplayed and outworked them in Game 1. The Wild responded with a terrible start.

  • Video: Can the Wild come back again?

    Sunday May 4, 2014

    The Chicago Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals with a 4-1 win over the Wild.

  • Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise (11) and center Mikko Koivu (9) c...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New Orleans 7:25 PM
Carolina
Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 6:00 PM
Orlando
Detroit 7:00 PM
Minnesota
New York 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Utah 7:30 PM
Dallas
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Boston 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Los Angeles 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Chicago 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Arizona 6:30 PM
Florida
San Jose 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Anaheim 7:00 PM
St. Louis
NY Islanders 8:00 PM
Colorado
Montreal 9:00 PM
Vancouver
(2) Florida State 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:02 PM
Memphis
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
Sporting Kansas City 7:00 PM
Red Bull New York
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Wild player?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close