The Minnesota Wild were able to leave the month of April on a winning note. They played 15 games and came out with 10 wins, three losses, and two overtime losses for a total of 22 points. Overall, April was a dominating month of wins, but they did have a few games where they gave up a high number of goals. Thankfully, those games didn’t leave a lasting impression, and they were able to bounce back.
What was really surprising was the rise of the Wild’s power play. They went from 24th in the league during the month of March with 11.9 percent to a whopping league-leading 40.5 percent just over a month later. They more than tripled their power-play goal totals in that time as well, going from just five goals scored to 17. The power play is moving in the right direction, but sadly their penalty kill went in the opposite direction.
Rough Time Killing Penalties
For most of the season, the Wild have had a good record killing off penalties, but lately, that has disappeared. They had an 86.1 percent penalty kill during the month of March, one of the highest in the league, but come April, that dropped to just 74.4 percent. They’ve let in 10 goals while shorthanded this last month, that’s up from six in March. The players that typically kill the penalties are the ones now spending time in the box.
Defenseman Carson Soucy led the team with 23 penalty minutes in March, followed by Joseph Cramarossa and Jordan Greenway. In April, a different defenseman took the lead Matt Dumba stole the spotlight with 34 minutes spent in the box. He was followed by Nick Bonino, and once again, Jordan Greenway. The Wild’s defensemen need to stay out of the box come playoffs, or they will continue to have difficulties killing penalties.
Despite spending time in the box, they actually managed to tally fewer penalty minutes with 137 this month compared to 142 last month, but their time in the box per game went up slightly from 8:52 minutes a game to 9:08. They need to keep both numbers dropping to help their penalty kill climb back to what it once was. They can’t spend so much time in the box when they should be out scoring goals.
Apart from penalties, the Wild’s other stats seem to be improving some or stayed pretty close to the same from month to month. Their hits have gone up quite a bit while their blocked shots stayed around the same.
Defensive Stats Can Always Improve
The Wild’s hits dramatically increased over the last couple of months. They went from 238 hits in March, which was at the bottom of the pack, just one spot up from last place to 20th in the league at 290 hits. They added nearly 50 hits in just a month’s time.
When done correctly, hits can be used both offensively and defensively, and the Wild have learned to utilize them in both ways. Those 50 extra hits helped change the momentum of games and turned things in their favor. The same can be said with blocked shots, something the Wild are typically quite good at each season.
Unfortunately, the Wild’s blocked shots have taken a turn in the wrong direction but not by much. They had a massive 251 blocked shots the whole month of March. This last month they dropped off to 225, 26 fewer blocked shots which could mean 26 goals scored against them. The Wild need to continue to block all the shots they can to help out their goaltenders every game.
Still Need More Shots
With the Wild, it’s kind of a broken record saying they need more shots on goal. This stat is something they’ve struggled with all season and continue to. Looking back at February, they seemed to finally be figuring it out, but then once March and April hit, things took a turn in the wrong direction.
They averaged nearly 30 shots a game in February, then down to around 27 in March, and finally, in the month of April, they averaged just 25.8 shots a game. The Wild can’t score goals if they aren’t taking shots and their shot totals are something that needs dramatic improvement from every player on the team.
Clearly, the Wild had a good month of winning games with a few mistakes here and there that they quickly learned from. Their stats, on the other hand, could always use improvement. Their power play is one of the few that has improved and done so in a sizable manner while the others have struggled.
Their penalty kill and blocked shots will need to get back to what they once were before they head into the postseason. They can’t go into the postseason and expect to succeed if their penalty kill is not up to par. They have to be able to kill off penalties without giving up any goals.
Overall the month was successful and also one they could learn from. Hopefully, this next month will follow April’s winning ways but with improved all-around stats, and with luck, the month of May will lead to postseason success.
Mariah Holland is a contributing Minnesota Wild writer for THW as well as a cohost on the THW Youtube show Chicks & Sticks which produces a new show every Friday. She’s been covering the Wild at THW for just over eight months and has been on Chicks & Sticks since it started in early May. She is always looking for different angles to cover the Wild and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team.