Wednesday, April 17, 2013

In Pominville The Minnesota Wild Trusts

If anyone was leery about the Minnesota Wild’s trade deadline move to acquire Jason Pominville who was the captain of the Buffalo Sabres, they shouldn’t be any more. Pominville has been a much needed acquisition and has provided the Wild with balance and some scoring punch.

The wild are no longer a one dimensional or one line team. They have three scoring lines now as evidenced by their scoring rampage in the past three games. Even their fourth line has pitched in provided a spark and a punch to the team’s playoff push.

Without Pominville, creating that balance in the line-up, the Wild might have faced a continuous scoring drout and would have been forced to rely heavily on their top line of Zach Parise, Miko Koivu and Charlie Coyle (or one of the other fill-ins).

With Pominville that doesn’t seem to be a concern and while head coach Mike Yeo needs to shuffle the lines from time to time, the Wild have been scoring goals as of late as they make a serious push to lock down a playoff spot and even try to steal the top spot in the division away from the Vancouver Canucks.

The Wild beat the Calgary Flames on Monday night 4-3 and the Edmonton Oilers 5-3 on Tuesday night as they swept through Alberta with two victories. Next up for the Wild is a trip to San Jose to take on the Sharks.

Factoids:
The Minnesota Wild has scored 11 goals in the past three games and while they lost in a shootout to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the shootout this past Saturday, the team has dominated their last three games.

Jason Pominvile has tallied three goals and three assists in the past three games. That’s earning his keep as far as I’m concerned.

Other Notables:
Kyle Brodziak who scored two goals last night and Niklas Backstrom who has been stellar in the past few outings need some credit. They have played pivotal roles in Minnesota’s victories the past two nights on the road.

Concern:
My biggest concern is the continued trouble the Wild have of clearing the puck out of their own end of the ice. The Wild go through flashes of brilliance and then have brain farts where they can’t clear the puck or they make terrible errors when trying to do so.

Sometimes when they have a clear chance of moving the puck out of their zone or are in the neutral ice area, they will unexplainably pass the puck back deeper into the defensive zone or pass the puck back into the defensive zone from neutral ice.

That has led to scoring opportunities for their opponents who are then able to put pressure on the Wild.

The Wild need to remain focused in the defensive zone and make smart plays. They don’t need to make pretty plays or do too much. Just get the puck out of there.

Another concern is the workload that Niklas Backstrom has been facing in this lockout shortened season. Backstrom played both games on back to back nights versus the Flames and Oilers and while he is showing few signs of fatigue, the team can’t afford for him to be worn down entering the playoffs.

The catch 22 for Mike Yeo is that he needs his top netminder between the pipes in order to make the playoffs but if he plays him too much, Backstrom will run out of gas when the team needs him most.

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