Once again, the Wild’s power play is a problem.
Not only did the Wild go 0-for-3 in a 1-0 loss Saturday afternoon at Colorado, but players were literally colliding with each other during the first two terrible-looking “advantages.”
The Wild is 5-for-34 this season, a 14.7 percentage that ranks 20th in the NHL. On the road, the Wild ranks last at 5 percent (1-for-20).
Just as concerning, the Wild — in what seems to be a yearly theme despite having a team allegedly built on speed and puck possession — isn’t drawing a lot of power plays. It hasn’t had more than four power plays in a game since opening night and is tied for the fourth-fewest power plays drawn in the NHL.
“We’ve got to keep working at it,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Asked what needs to be fixed, Boudreau, in mocking tone, said: “Well, we’re trying to be cute. We don’t shoot the puck. We don’t shoot the puck enough to score. And I was always taught, if things aren’t going in for you, you shoot all the time from everywhere, go to the front of the net, get one off your butt or something.”
Center Eric Staal, one of the rare newcomers to a Wild power play that has had mostly the same personnel since 2013, said: “We just have to get a little crispier in some of our decision-making and give each other outs, a little bit more of making the easy play instead of having to force each other and making the sauce [pass] or the pass through guys.
“We will get rewarded if we start doing that.”
The Wild has 56 shots this season on the power play. Defenseman Ryan Suter leads in power-play total ice time at more than 35 minutes. He has three points and seven shots. Defenseman Matt Dumba is next at more than 33 minutes. He has two points and 10 shots. Power-play mainstays Charlie Coyle, Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise, who has missed the past three games with a foot injury, have one power-play point each.
Once again, the Wild is too stationary and rarely has a good net-front presence. Mikael Granlund committed a bad turnover on one power play Saturday, but the trouble began instants before when Jason Pominville got the puck down low and Koivu didn’t even consider driving the net to receive a pass.
“I feel like we’re finally starting to get in the zone better, which is a big thing,” Suter said. “Once we get in the zone, we have good zone time.
“What’s the difference? Couple inches here and there, be a little sharper on passing for sure. I mean, we’re getting pucks [to the net]. We just have to work a little harder and hopefully get rewarded.”
• Saturday’s game was the first of four straight on the road. The Wild returned to Minnesota afterward for a Sunday morning practice at Xcel Energy Center, which plays host to the state volleyball tournament this week. It’ll practice Monday and Wednesday in Minnesota before resuming its road swing with three games in four nights, starting Thursday in Pittsburgh.
• Neither Parise nor injured Erik Haula practiced Sunday, although Parise skated again before practice.