Unless Devan Dubnyk literally morphs into a brick wall between the pipes, the Minnesota Wild are going to need to avoid playing two phases of the game the way they did during their March slump.
Minnesota lost 12 of 16 games in March before closing out the regular season with four straight wins here in April. FiveThirtyEight sums up the March misery really well, hitting two major flaws in the Wild's game:
- Dismal shooting percentage
- Even worse on the power play
The biggest reason Minnesota scored a lousy 2.5 goals per game in March was due to a major drop in shooting percentage. After scoring on a whopping 11% of their shots through February, the Wild found the back of the net on just 7.7% of their shots in March.
Only six power play goals in March resulted in a power play percentage of 12.5%, despite 48 power play opportunities – the fifth-most in March.
Consider that Minnesota's power play clicked to the tune of 22.6% through February and you start to see why they struggled so much.
Interestingly, Minnesota's struggles came as Martin Hanzal arrived in a late February trade with Arizona.
"First couple of weeks was tough. Everything was new to me," Hanzal told the Minnesota Wild Pondcast. "Lately, I am getting better ... it was a process. We were focusing everything on the playoffs, so hopefully we got it all straightened up and we'll be rolling today."
Better in April
It's a small sample size of five games, but the Wild's power play is clicking at 37.5% (3-for-8) in April and their shooting percentage is back up to 10.1%.
Additionally, they've allowed just 2.4 goals per game in April.
We'll see if the Wild can continue trending in the right direction. If they don't, they might have a early exit from the playoffs.