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  • FERRELL: 3-on-3 -- The First Two Games

    Giles Ferrell

    Nothing quite beats two games in three nights to open the season, only to have that followed by four nights off. For Wild fans, this is becoming a yearly tradition to sit on their hands in October while the team gets a ridiculous amount of time off.


    Since they are only two games in, it's hard to fully dissect everything as it represents a very small sample size of the season. So instead of going all out on one thought that might just be nothing after this week, here are a bunch of thoughts from the first two games. To the 3-on-3 we go!



    There was no better line in the first two games than the Charlie Coyle-Eric Staal-Nino Niederreiter line. Whether it was driving puck possession or winning board battles, this line has been a force. The only thing that this line hasn't done was get on the score sheet, as Staal is the lone player to have a point. Coyle had a few chances to get the Wild's fourth goal Saturday night, but unfortunately missed. With the return of Zach Parise seemingly on the horizon this line might be destined to get split up; however, they have been the consistently best line on the team in two games.

    One of the most notable changes from Thursday night's game to Saturday night's game, was the power play time handed out to the defenseman. Ryan Suter bottled up a majority of the time Thursday night, getting 5:51 on the power play. As written over at Hockey Wilderness, it wasn't exactly the most effective time on the power play either. Switch over to Saturday, Suter saw a big reduction in power play time (2:14) and that was only good enough for third best on the team. Mike Reilly (2:32) and Matt Dumba (2:36) both logged more time than Suter on the power play Saturday night, with Dumba setting up Jason Zucker for a power-play goal. Getting Reilly and Dumba -- both offensive defensemen -- more time on the power play should be something Bruce Boudreau takes a look at doing this season -- or at least until Suter gripes about it.

    Your Minnesota Wild leading goal scorer two games into the season is *drumroll* Chris Stewart! With a pair of goals, Stewart has logged two solid outings to open the year. Now if he could just play like this more consistently...


    Defense and goaltending is something the Wild pride themselves on, and it has been relatively non-existent in the first two games. Nine goals allowed doesn't cry out great defense, as the Wild have been downright sloppy in the defensive zone. The defensive woes came into question Saturday night against Carolina when Boudreau said the team was too loose, especially after going up 3-1, a time when the team needed to be more structured defensively.

    Last season, Minnesota had incredible luck when it came to injuries or lack thereof. This season, they are not getting off to a good start in that department. Parise has been out since training camp with an "undisclosed" injury, while Mikael Granlund missed Saturday night with a lower-body injury. With the Wild so tight to the salary cap, they could not afford to call up an extra forward for Saturday's game, so they had to dress a seventh defenseman in Gustav Olofsson. While it sounds positive that both Parise and Granlund will return this week, it serves as a reminder that the Wild cannot afford injuries early on in the season. But fortunately, the schedule is a bit more accommodating for injuries this month.

    Detroit and Carolina were non-playoff teams last year, and Detroit has been universally thought of as one of the worst entering this season. Opening the year with just one point in these two games is not exactly an optimal start for a team with high aspirations. Just think, they were 0.2 seconds away from having no points in those first two games.



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