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  • Mathew Dumba shows how defensemen joining the rush can be lethal offensive weapons


    For a team like the Minnesota Wild that lacks high-end offensive talent in it’s forward group, it is vital to receive offensive contributions from their defenseman. Enter Mathew Dumba, arguably the most polarizing player on the Wild right now. His offensive talents are undeniable, as are the multiple defensive zone lapses he has suffered this year. Dumba got off to a slow start this season offensively, seemingly unsure of when to join the rush, and much of the time looked uncharacteristically tepid with the puck. Lately though, Dumba’s willingness to join the attack at the right moments is paying dividends. Specifically, on two goals in the last two games that came as a result of Dumba’s decision to join the rush.

    The most recent example was on Erik Haula’s goal against the Florida Panthers.

    The play starts with Charlie Coyle gathering the puck up after a scramble in front of the Wild net. As soon as the puck was tipped to Coyle, both Dumba and Nino Niederreiter jumped up in the play to create a 3-on-2.

    As Coyle carries the puck up the wall Dumba does a great job staying onside while driving his defenseman back into the zone and away from the middle of the ice. This allows a passing lane to open up for Coyle to Nino.

    You can see how the Panthers defender in the middle is pulled between Dumba and Nino as the pass goes across the ice. Nino receives the pass in space while Dumba continues on to crash the net. All of the havoc in front of the net leads to blown defensive coverage by the Panthers, and Haula swoops in late to score into a wide open net.

    In the previous game against the Blues, Dumba showed both his penchant for joining the rush, but also the skills that make him such a unique player.

    Once again, the play starts in the Wild zone. Parise grabs the puck on the wall and the Wild have an easy three-man breakout. The two St. Louis Blues players caught in the zone see a developing low-danger 3-on-3 and decide to go for a change.

    With nobody left to account for him, Dumba wisely steps up into the play, receives a pass from Parise, and with one simple move around Vladamir Tarasenko, turns a 3-on-3 into a 4-on-2.

    This is where the offensive skill of Dumba takes over. With his teammates somewhat stalled at the blue line, Dumba simply walks in to the zone, gets nice and tight to the defenseman, and rips a snap shot top shelf.

    Bad goal for Jake Allen to give up? Yup. But nobody else on the Wild has a shot that troubles goalies as much as Dumba’s.

    Dumba’s case for protection over a player like Jonas Brodin in the upcoming expansion draft will likely rest on his ability to create offense on plays such as these. His quick release on his silly-hard shots is an ability nobody else on the team possesses. For a team that has always struggled to score goals, it would be hard to see offensive talent like that head out the door. Dumba’s success going forward hinges on balancing offensive aggression with defensive responsibility in order to gain the trust of his coaches. Continuing to make plays like these will no doubt earn him a little longer leash with the Wild decision makers.



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