The Minnesota Wild's (10-4-4) hot start to the season can be attributed to a number of things, but the team's philosophy deserves first mention.
When Mike Yeo took over the head coaching job with the Wild two seasons ago, he wanted the Wild to play a defensive brand of hockey.
The style was holding the Wild back. At one point, former Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky -- an offensive-minded player -- called out Yeo for his "easy" style of hockey.
Zidlicky might have been right because this year's Wild team has adopted a more aggressive brand of hockey with Yeo at the helm.
“We weren’t going to take the next step, become a serious contender, unless we changed the way we played offensively,” Yeo said, via ProHockeyTalk. “I have bit my lip a couple of times on the bench … but we’re going to live with the risk to get more reward.”
The switch has helped the Wild improve from the worst goal-scoring team in the NHL in 2011 (2.02 goals/game) to a team scoring nearly three goals a game this season (2.61). Minnesota has been at its best at home, averaging 3.1 goals a game.
As CBC Sports reports, Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher helped develop the idea to play the puck more through research with advanced statistics.
Note: Wild defenseman Keith Ballard is expected to miss a couple of week because of an upper-body injury, according to the Star Tribune.