The Wild has four days to stew on a winless start, with its next game not coming until Thursday when it hosts the Blackhawks.
But the upside of this lull in the schedule is that it gives the team time to figure out why poor starts have been sabotaging better finishes, a trend through two games after it popped up again in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Golden Knights Saturday at Xcel Energy Center.
“That’s the question right now,” captain Mikko Koivu said. “I don't know. Usually the home opener it should go almost the other way. You should be there right away at the first. I don’t know. I thought we were a little nervous with the puck and we were a little slow for the first two periods.
“Why is that? I have no answer for that right now. But it’s something you need in this league in order to win a hockey game. You need to have that 60-minute game. Sure, there’s ups and downs. But we were a little flat.”
Although the Wild scored the first goal and had a lead for much of regulation, a rally by Vegas almost seemed inevitable considering how little the Wild was doing to grow its cushion.
The team had just 13 shots through two periods.
“We were making slow decisions and not moving the puck quick enough,” defenseman Jared Spurgeon said.
That’s another theme so far, how much of a struggle it is for the team to push the pace of play.
“Of course it concerns me,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “You want to come out and jump out and have a 3-0 lead right off the bat, but it hasn't happened yet. We'll look at the tapes of both games. We'll compare and see why.
“I don't have an answer for you right now. Maybe it's they want to make everything perfect. But the one thing I've found out in this league right now is you gotta skate. You gotta be able to skate. If you're not skating, you're left in the dust. We tried to make too many plays standing still in the first two periods.”
Here’s what else to keep an eye on as the Wild prepares for its next tilt Thursday against the Blackhawks.
- Will the layoff slow goalie Devan Dubnyk’s momentum?
The goaltender has been the Wild’s best player to start the season and if anyone would want to bypass a break and keep playing, it might be Dubnyk.
He’s stopped 77 of 80 shots so far to post a .963 save percentage.
“He's seeing the puck,” Boudreau said. “Touch wood, and we don't want it to stop. But two years ago, he had this kind of game right until March and he won us hockey games on his own. Right now, he's playing as well as anybody. To have only one point and his goals against is 1.50 is not fair to him."
- Don’t be surprised if the Wild studies this late-game collapse a little closer.
Vegas was able to get an offensive-zone draw with an extra attacker following an icing and after winning the faceoff, winger Max Pacioretty had enough space to get off an untested one-timer.
“They have a one-timer,” Zucker said. “They have a lefty down the back side. They have [William] Karlsson. They have Pacioretty in the middle. So you’ve got to watch two guys, but it’s kind of a dual responsibility of myself and I’m not sure who the other guy [Eric Staal] was to grab Pacioretty right there.”
- After blanking on two tries with the man advantage, the Wild’s power play is still scoreless (0-for-5).