The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Calgary Flames 2/25/2013 @ 7:00PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

Minnesota Wild (8-7-2)  18pts  2nd in the Northwest

2.06 Goals For per game (29th in the NHL)

2.41 Goals Against per game (9th in the NHL)

13.8% Power Play (27th in the NHL)

84.9% Penalty Kill (6th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #11 Zach Parise ~ 7G 5A = 12pts

2. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 3G 9A = 12pts

3. #15 Dany Heatley ~ 5G 4A = 9pts

4. #7 Matt Cullen ~ 3G 6A = 9pts

5. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 0G 9A = 9pts

Top 3 PIM's:

1. #28 Zenon Konopka ~ 52 PIM's

2. #27 Mike Rupp ~ 22 PIM's

3. #10 Devin Setoguchi ~ 12 PIM's

Top Goaltender(s):

1. #32 Niklas Backstrom (6-5-2)  2.26GAA  .917%SP

2. #35 Darcy Kuemper (1-1-0)  2.02GAA  .933%SP

3. #37 Josh Harding (1-1-0)  2.92GAA  .885%SP  1SO






Calgary Flames (7-7-3)  17pts  4th in the Northwest

2.82 Goals For per game (12th in the NHL)

3.29 Goals Against per game (27th in the NHL)

22% Power Play (8th in the NHL)

75% Penalty Kill (27th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #40 Alex Tanguay ~ 5G 10A = 15pts

2. #12 Jarome Iginla ~ 3G 10A = 13pts

3. #22 Lee Stempniak ~ 5G 7A = 12pts

4. #13 Mike Cammalleri ~ 5G 7A = 12pts

5. #20 Curtis Glencross ~ 7G 4A = 11pts

Top 3 PIM's:

1. #40 Alex Tanguay ~ 14 PIM's

2. #18 Matt Stajan ~ 14 PIM's

3. #12 Jarome Iginla ~ 12 PIM's

Top Goaltender(s):

1. #35 Joey MacDonald (3-2-0)  2.85GAA  .901%SP

2. #34 Miikka Kiprusoff (2-3-2)  3.24GAA  .870%SP

3. #37 Leland Irving (2-1-1)  3.33GAA  .883%SP

4. #41 Danny Taylor (0-1-0)  4.00GAA  .892%SP

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I'm not sure what it is, but I really appreciate it when I read in the press realize that things they are doing aren't working (or at the very least, aren't as successful as they would hope).  Yet it's hard to tell if they truly believe what they need to do to make changes or if they're just paying lip service.  The most current revelation is the contentious dump and chase style of play. 

I call it contentious, because if you talk to fans we're extremely frustrated by it.  Why?  Because it's frustrating to essentially see Minnesota voluntarily give the puck to the opposition.  In order to have an effective dump and chase, a team must possess at least two traits.  One, a team must be speedy.  If you're going to send the puck deep into the opposition's zone, you better have the wheels to get it back to create the all-important scoring chances.  If you haven't figured it out by now, the Wild aren't exactly the speediest of teams.  Sure, we have a couple of players like Jason Zucker and Zach Parise who can beat the other team's skaters.  However, you need more skaters than just a couple if you're going to be effective.  The other thing crucial element a team needs is a strong forecheck (which of course goes hand in hand with speed).  If you can't go toe to toe and get that puck and then maintain that puck in the offensive zone, you're simply going to hand the puck right back to your opponent.  Which is what happens more times than not.

Wild captain, Mikko Koivu, also mentioned in the Minneapolis Star Tribune an additional trait that must be combined with the above all-important ones.  According to Koivu, where they shoot the puck with the dump and chase is also very crucial.  While it doesn't always happen, even for the most talented teams, ideally you want to shoot the puck outside of the trapezoid.  If you can get it into the goaltender's "no mans' land" you have a better chance of getting possession of the puck back.  However, if you continually shoot it where the goaltender can retrieve the puck, he's simply going to go back and get it, and get it to one of his skaters.  Once again, easily handing possession away.  At the very least, you want to get the puck behind the defenders and into an area where the goaltender has to seriously think if it's smart for him to play the puck or remain in the crease (or at least close to it).

Parise states that the forecheck is improving, but even he's honest to say that it's not quite there yet.  We just need the rest of the team to buy in and figure out ways to improve.  To Parise, it has to be more than just the game plan; it has to be the mindset.  Strategy often has a mental side to it, and in the case of a strong forecheck, you mind often has to be stronger than your body.  Of course that can be said about life in general.  While we as fans are frustrated by what we're seeing with the struggling game plan the Wild have been trying to implement, many of the best team successfully use the dump and chase.  Parise also makes the ultimate statement which is the crux of matters, that being "It's not the system.  It's more the execution of the system."  While things have been improving, it's hard to say how much more patience that fans will give the team to execute.

Now that members of the Wild have talked the talked, it will be interesting if they'll walk the walk (or at least attempt to do so).  For myself personally, I'm appreciating the honesty coming from some of the players.  However, it's only honest if they're not just paying lip service


Jack Jablonski & Jenna Privette