It’s almost become comical … in a sad sort of way.
Nobody seems to get more appetizing scoring chances than Kyle Brodziak, yet no matter how incredible the chance, the Wild center can’t seem to find the back of the net.
Monday in Los Angeles, he hit the crossbar on a one-timer, then shot Justin Fontaine’s rebound right into Jonathan Quick’s right pad. Thursday in Chicago, Brodziak hit his umpteenth post of the season, then stole a puck in the slot, executed a perfect deke to create an open net for himself only to be stick-checked from behind by Duncan Keith.
Brodziak has scored six goals in 78 games and two in the past 32.
Defensively, Brodziak has rebounded from a miserable 2013 season (minus-18 in 48 games). Offensively, he still struggles mightily to score.
“It is frustrating to not be able to contribute and help the team out offensively more than I could be, but at the same time, I can’t let it affect my game in a negative way,” he said. “I’m trying not to think about it as much and worry about the most important part of my game, and that’s being strong defensively.”
Brodziak is minus-3 in 78 games, which is fairly solid considering how little he has scored. Brodziak gets so many tremendous chances because of how good he has been defensively, how positionally sound he has been and how strong he has been on the forecheck. He showed it again during Saturday’s 4-0 victory over Pittsburgh, a game his line was assigned with shutting down Sidney Crosby (no shots).
“No question he has to have that part of his game,” coach Mike Yeo said. “That’s his staple, that’s who he is. The better he’s checking, the more turnovers he’s going to create.”
Yeo feels Brodziak’s game has been “trending in the right direction” lately and that he’ll get rewarded offensively if he continues to play this way.
Brodziak sure hopes so.
“Last year, it felt I’d go numerous games in a row without getting a scoring chance,” he said. “But this year, it feels there has been a lot more of them. Last year was one of those years where nothing felt like it went right. This year has been tough on one side of the ledger, but overall, it’s different, for sure.”
Parise says he’s fine
Zach Parise said he felt “all right” before playing against the Penguins. The Wild first-liner complained of a slide headache after being nailed with a blindside check from Chicago’s Brandon Bollig on Thursday.
“I think I’m fine,” Parise said before his two-assist night. “I just didn’t see him coming. I was kind of surprised it wasn’t a penalty, at least interference or something.”
It was the third high hit in two games against the Wild that didn’t result in league discipline. Nino Niederreiter and Jason Pominville were each crushed Monday in Los Angeles by defenseman Jake Muzzin.
The league didn’t deem any of them “head shots” because it felt video evidence proved the head wasn’t the principal point of contact, which is the primary criterion for an illegal check to the head.
• Defenseman Keith Ballard missed his 10th consecutive game because of a groin injury. “He’s not there yet,” Yeo said. “He’s a little bit frustrated. He’s dying to get back.”
• Cody McCormick (goal, assist) played center for the first time with the Wild. He pivoted the fourth line with Stephane Veilleux and Niederreiter, who returned after missing Thursday’s game for precautionary reasons.
• Goalie Darcy Kuemper (upper body) missed his third game and is day-to-day. Yeo said he’s feeling a little better. Yeo offered no update on center Mikael Granlund (head) beyond day-to-day.