Monday, November 18, 2013

Taking The Foot Off The Pedal

Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Last night, the Wild closed out their three game homestand with a 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. The win gave the Wild a sweep of the homestand, and was their fourth straight victory overall.

In the advanced stats department, the Wild did dominate all three games at home this past week. And if you were to look at those stats and not know the score, you'd think the Wild won 5-1 every game. They didn't. They won 2-1 in a shootout over Toronto, 3-2 over Florida, and the before mentioned 2-1 victory against Winnipeg. Not exactly dominating performances.

In all three of those performances, you did see the dominating Wild play. Problem was, they did not give that dominating effort for a full 60 minutes. Every game on the home stand, we saw our favorite team have stretches where they backed off and found themselves playing in the defensive zone far more than the offensive zone. Luckily, Josh Harding was able to keep all three games close giving the Wild a chance to win.

Wednesday against Toronto the Wild were flat for a good two periods, before cranking up their intensity which resulted in the game's tying goal late in the third (they won in a shootout). Friday and Sunday, we saw the Wild jump out to early leads, flirt with breaking the game wide open, then take their foot off the gas allowing two far inferior teams to stay in and eventually tie the game.

Mike Yeo noted on the games last night by saying, " Couple of games in a row where we play safe and we are on our heels. When we're at our best, we're dictating, we're pursuing, we're pressuring." He also went on to say, "Once they tied it up, something clicked. Same as last game (Florida) where we said 'Ok, we're gonna take charge now.'"

Even Zach Parise stepped up and commented on the team's play against the Jets, "We start well, then the game went on and in the second we got a little sloppy in a couple of areas. Swinging away from the puck in the neutral zone. Flat footed a lot in the neutral zone. Once we addressed that and changed that, we kind of took over".

Parise on the team's play over the last week, "We have to be a lot better than that. We had a good start. I'm not sure if we get complacent or what, but I think some different areas the last two games slipped. We can't allow that. Good teams will make you pay".

That last line is the driving point here. "Good teams will make you pay."

Basically, the Wild got off the hook this past week, because they played three sloppy teams. They were able to take their foot off the gas and recovered in all games for three wins. But once the schedule gets into a rough area (like next week when West teams St. Louis, Phoenix, and Colorado are matched up against the Wild), the Wild will not be as fortunate if they play like that.

Should we be glad the Wild continue to find ways to win? Absolutely. The West is stacked with 10 teams who you would not want to face in the playoffs right now. So getting two points every night is great.

But should we be happy with how the team has played the past week? No. They know it, we know it. You have to play better to consistently win in this league. Pray they get the ship righted before they start playing those West teams.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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