The Wild has been able to keep up with some of the juggernauts in the conference, prying points away from the likes of the Golden Knights, Predators and Sharks.
But the challenge presented by a speedy team like the Avalanche is one that has befuddled the Wild, as it did Friday in a 7-1 shellacking at Pepsi Center that wrapped its brief two-game road trip at 0-2.
“It’s usually on the road,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We have no choice but to correct it or we won’t be playing much longer.”
Boudreau did point out that the team had success against a quick group in the Devils last week, and there have been other similar outcomes – against Vegas, Toronto and Tampa Bay.
This is two straight lopsided defeats against the Avalanche, though, and in both cases the Wild couldn’t corral Colorado’s talented forwards and the defensemen who supported the rush.
Perhaps being the visitor while the home team feeds off the energy of the crowd is part of the problem, but Boudreau doesn’t believe it’s a matter of the team not having last change on the road. So the search for answers continues, especially since the Avalanche won’t be the last fast group the Wild encounters the rest of the way.
“A lot of times we get the matchups we want, especially on defense against their forward lines,” Boudreau said. “Whatever it is, we gotta figure it out.”
Here’s what else to watch for after the Wild’s loss to the Avalanche.
- In its last four periods, the Wild has surrendered an eye-popping 11 goals – a number that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Boudreau.
“That’s not something you want to do,” he said.
This was an unsuccessful road trip for the Wild, as it went pointless in consecutive games for the first time since the final two games before the holiday break. On the heels of a five-game win streak, the setback seems to sting even more.
“It’s disappointing,” center Eric Staal said. “We come on the road, and you want to keep building momentum.”
- The result is certainly unflattering for the Wild’s goaltending duo of Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock, but the Avalanche had plenty of time and space to operate with in the offensive zone – capitalizing on breakdowns that happened before the puck even reached the net.
“I feel for Duby and Al,” defenseman Matt Dumba said. “We didn’t give them any support. … That’s a tough spot for us to put them in.”
- This isn’t the last time the Wild will face the Avalanche; Colorado visits Minnesota March 13 for the series finale.
“Great players are going to make plays,” Dubnyk said. “But you got a guy like [Nathan] MacKinnon that skates and handles the puck like he does, the best way to defend him is to not give him that. There’s going to be times that he creates because he’s that good. But if it’s over and over and over again, it’s probably not going to be a positive result for us.”