I’ve been doing mostly game previews up to this point of the season, so let’s take a moment and (as much as we’d hate to do it) look back at the first seven games of the season.
COLUMBUS 2 – MINNESOTA 1
MINNESOTA 4 – ANAHEIM 3 (OT)
LOS ANGELES 6 – MINNESOTA 3
SAN JOSE 4 – MINNESOTA 2
ANAHEIM 3 – MINNESOTA 2
EDMONTON 5 – MINNESOTA 2
VANCOUVER 2 – MINNESOTA 1
Okay, first off, 1-6 is terrible. Terrible. A winless five-game road trip makes it really hard to pick anything positive out of the mess. But I’ll put on my optimist hat and see what I can do.
Nicklas Backstrom –
2.82 GAA / .913 SV% (on 161 Shots)
Only four goalies in the NHL have a better SV% facing more shots (Anderson, Lundqvist, Ward, Fleury) and only two goalies have a higher SV% with higher Shots Faced per 60 minutes (Hiller – 33.8, Ward – 32.6, Backstrom – 32.5).
So he’s been very good. Which makes it seem like the mild concerns about Backstrom being a ‘system goalie’ were unfounded. Unfortunately, he’s getting shelled. But we’re being positive here, so let’s move on.
Eric Belanger –
Somehow Belanger is +1. This is really impressive considering the Wild have scored only 7 even strength goals this season and only allowed 3 power play goals. So, only seven goals could account for a ‘plus’ and 22 opponent’s goals could account for a ‘minus’. Belanger has the only positive +/- on the roster (not surprising), and he’s been on the ice for four of those seven goals (and 4 power play goals). He’s tied for the team lead with 8 points (2 G, 6 A) and he’s winning faceoffs (51.4%). All in all a pretty solid stretch.
That’s really all I got for positivity. I’m sure there are plenty of other places where you can find what’s wrong with the Wild or who needs to step up their game, so I’ll leave that portion in others’ capable hands.