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  • Without Zach Parise, Minnesota's forwards couldn't solve Pekka Rinne


    Parise Injury?

    Last night had two distinct "moments" that stick out as pivotal. The first is the injury of Zach Parise at the hands of James Neal. The hit was a bad one from behind, and Parise's knee took the brunt of the damage. It was not, strictly speaking, illegal (though compelling arguments can be made for either charging or checking from behind, as per page 67 of the NHL Rule Book). Neal was running around all game, and Zach's injury was simply a major blow to the Wild.

    Despite that injury, however, the Wild had a tie game in the third period and managed to lose. Despite Parise's absence, the Wild dominated play in the second period (to the tune of 60% Corsi-for%) before

    "Soft" Goal?

    Another clear moment that changed the game was the Predator's third goal. Cody Hodgson fires a shot from the blue line, and Dubnyk makes the stop. The puck is loose beneath him, however, and instead of collapsing onto it, Devan decided to wiggle around to find the puck (possibly to play it back out?) Hodgson, like any good forward, followed his shot in and finished the opportunity after Dubnyk dropped the puck from his pads.

    Should refs have whistled the play dead? Possibly. They certainly were quick with their whistles at other points. However, the number one rule of hockey (of any sport, really) is to play till the whistle. The Wild have no one but themselves to blame for not doing so. The puck was not secure beneath Dubnyk, and the refs were well within their rights to hold the whistle. If Dubnyk collapses (or simply doesn't bobble a shot from 40 feet out), there's no goal. Spurgeon, Granlund, and Suter are all in close proximity to the net well before Hodgson got there. If they play to the whistle, there's no goal.

    In short: the Wild quit playing, and the Predators scored. That goal is not the referee's fault. There is a strong case for that being the pivotal moment in the game. But it isn't. Despite that (rather fluky) goal, Dubnyk played generally well last night. He had two obvious hiccups, one which turned into a goal and one which did not. He also positively robbed the Predators on a number of occasions.

    Power Play Anemia?

    Perhaps the Pivotal Moment was when the Wild failed to click on four of their six power plays: after all, the man advantage is a prime time to score goals, and the Wild let four of them pass by without taking advantage. Still, the Wild connected on two of their six chances, and a 33.33% Success Rate is nothing to sneeze at. Indeed, if the Wild score on one of every three power plays for the rest of the season, they will win a lot of games.

    Lack of Scoring

    No, the Pivotal Moment was when twelve forwards (eleven after Parise's injury) failed to score. The Pivotal Moment was when the Wild, despite having 25 shots on goal at 5v5, 17 scoring chances, and 5 High-Danger Scoring Chances (from War on Ice).

    You could argue that Parise's absence was a difference here, and that is obvious: Parise leads the team in scoring and is far and away their most consistent threat. Despite his absence, Nino Niederreiter and Jason Zucker had golden chances to score, but didn't. Jason Pominville had a number of scoring chances, but didn't. Thomas Vanek had chances to score, but didn't.

    The Wild's only two goals came from their blue line, and while that's great, the Wild cannot rely on their defensemen to provide all of their offense. The Wild cannot rely on power plays to win games, and ultimately, that cost them last night.

    Power Play Points are great, but the Wild are going to need to score at 5v5 if they are going to win games, and last night they didn't do that. And that, for me, was the pivotal moment(s).

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