Through the last three games for the Minnesota Wild, the team scored six goals in total. They put up two goals in a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, three in a 3-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens, and one in a 1-0 shutout against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. Here’s the twist: all six of those goals were scored by Jason Zucker. It has now been more than a full week since someone other than Zucker scored for the Wild.
What Zucker has accomplished is nothing to scoff at. He is now only one away from the league record of seven straight for his team held jointly by Cy Denneny in 1921 with the original Ottawa Senators and Brian Noonan in 1992 with the Chicago Blackhawks. Zucker and goalie Devan Dubnyk, who has posted back-to-back shutouts in the last two games, have both been the biggest reasons the Wild won the past two games.
Having only one goal scorer for three straight games is not inherently bad. After all, the 1992 Blackhawks went to the Stanley Cup Finals and the 1921 Senators won the Cup itself. For the Minnesota Wild however, it shows a larger scale issue with the team.
While the Wild are middle of the pack in terms of goals scored in the league, only four of their players have at least four goals in the team’s sixteen games. Zucker leads the team with nine, followed by Chris Stewart with six, Eric Staal with five, and Mikko Koivu with four. But Stewart hasn’t scored in ten games and yet his shooting percentage is still at an entirely unsustainable 22.2% considering his career shooting percentage is 13%. Six of the nine goals scored by Koivu and Staal came in the first six games of the season.
The real issue the Wild are facing is depth not stepping up. Both Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter have missed time due to injury, forcing others into bigger roles. Daniel Winnik and Luke Kunin average 14 minutes per night but both have only two goals. Joel Eriksson Ek was supposed to be able to perform in the NHL this year, but has only three total points despite playing every game.
In terms of the biggest disappointments offensively so far this year, Mikael Granlund is in the discussion. Granlund had his big breakout last season with 26 goals and 69 points. So far this season, Granlund has a single goal and only five points. He has been limited to 11 games due to a minor groin injury, but his play has left much to be desired. Granlund has plenty of season left to turn it around, but any longer and many will believe his successful last season was just a flash in the pan.
The Wild take on the Flyers again tonight, this time in Minnesota. The team will look to spread out the offense against a young Flyers team that has shown both offensive skill and defensive ability. Dubnyk will be going for his third straight shutout, something he did once last season.