An inability to score continues to plague the Minnesota Wild.
Picking up the pace against the Detroit Red Wings could prove difficult given their history in this series.
The Wild try to avoid a fifth consecutive loss to the Red Wings when the teams begin a home-and-home set Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center.
Despite acquiring plenty of offensive firepower in four-time 40-goal scorer Dany Heatley(notes) and Devin Setoguchi(notes) in separate trades from San Jose during the offseason, Minnesota (3-3-3) hasn’t been able to generate many scoring opportunities. Its averages of 25.3 shots on goal and 2.00 goals both rank near the bottom of the league.
“People are talking about us not having goal scorers, not being able to score goals,” rookie coach Mike Yeo said. “I believe that we have guys that are capable of scoring goals, it’s just we have to kinda change the way that we go about trying to (do so).”
Defenseman Jared Spurgeon(notes) and center Matt Cullen(notes), who leads the team with four goals, both scored on the power play but Niklas Backstrom(notes) turned away just 13 of 16 shots in Thursday’s 3-2 loss to Anaheim.
While Yeo knows that implementing new schemes will take time, he wants the Wild to become more aggressive on offense.
“We get in prime scoring areas and we wait and wait and wait and think there are better opportunities,” he said.
“Go on NHL.com, look at the way goals are scored - across the board - every game it’s the same thing. At least four out of the five goals in every game - if not five out of the five - it’s you get a puck into the area around the blue paint and you have numbers there. We just have to become better at that.”
“You have to create the chances. You can’t be satisfied that you’re getting chances, either. Obviously goals are the things that matter,” said Koivu, who has one goal and four assists in 11 career home games versus Detroit (5-3-0).
The Red Wings have dominated this series, posting a 28-6-4 record all-time with three ties. They’ve gone 6-0-1 over the last seven meetings, outscoring the Wild 26-13 and killing 26 of their 28 power-play opportunities.
Detroit opened with five consecutive wins but has since dropped three in a row while getting outscored 15-4. Forwards Henrik Zetterberg(notes) and Tomas Holmstrom(notes) both scored while left wing Pavel Datsyuk(notes) and defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) each added two assists during Friday’s 4-2 loss to San Jose.
“It was a good game. Sometimes you can fool yourself in these games though. The opposition gets you prepared for these games. You don’t have to get yourself prepared,” coach Mike Babcock said. “But being a pro is getting prepared every night so you have energy to play every night. So that’s a challenge for us (Saturday at Minnesota).”
Howard has gone 7-0-1 with a 1.93 goals-against average versus Minnesota since the start of the 2009-10 season. He made 12 saves in a 3-2 overtime win in St. Paul on Oct. 15.
Backstrom is 1-4-3 with a 3.24 GAA in 10 career games - eight starts - against Detroit.