During the run of six consecutive playoff appearances, the Minnesota Wild have boasted themselves — rightfully so — as one of the best home teams in the National Hockey League. The team has even gone as far as using the home success in their ad campaigns with featured slogans of ‘Home Ice Advantage’ and more recently ‘Our Ice.’
This season, however, the Wild have found the friendly confines of Xcel Energy Center to be anything but friendly. The team has endured one of their worst seasons at home not just in recent seasons but in the history of the franchise.
Following Sunday night’s loss to the Islanders, the Wild hold a 15-15-7 record in St. Paul this season with just four home games remaining. That record translates into a .435 winning percentage, which is the worst in the 19-year history of the club. That franchise-worst winning percentage at home comes in the wake of a season where Minnesota set their best ever mark at home, posting a .660 win percentage — 27-6-8 record — at “The X” last season.
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So what exactly has contributed to this franchise-worst home record? A few things seem to jump out as to why Minnesota cannot win at home this year.
Special teams are about the only thing going moderately right for the Wild at home. Offense and goaltending have been completely non-existent, which has vastly come under the microscope in recent weeks.
Goaltending, specifically — which typically has been a strength for Minnesota at home — has really fallen below average. As mentioned on Sunday’s Giles and the Goalie podcast, Devan Dubnyk has had a complete about face at home from Nov. 13 through present day.
Wild goaltending at home before Nov. 13
Wild goaltending at home since Nov. 13
Dubnyk dropping over 40 percentage points in his save percentage is not good. And to even further drive home how bad his play has been, Dubnyk’s .901 home save percentage at five-on-five since Nov. 13 is 29th in the NHL out of 30 goaltenders who have played more than 650 minutes. Only Keith Kincaid of New Jersey — .895 five-on-five percentage — has been worse in that time.
Minnesota’s offense is not without blame here as well, as the Wild simply have had difficulties scoring at home this season. Goals and shooting percentage highlighted above references all strengths for Minnesota, but if you crunch it down to their five-on-five play it gets even worse.
The Wild currently hold a league-worst 6.5 percent shooting-percentage at five-on-five, and their 62 goals scored at five-on-five is second worst in the league only trailing Los Angeles. No Wild player outside of Eric Staal has a points per 60 over two at home this season. Minnesota had three players over that mark last season, and recent trades of Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter — two players who were big point-drivers at five-on-five — have further made matters worse for the struggling Wild.
Also not helping has been the fact Zach Parise, who had a tremendous start to the season production-wise, has been held scoreless in seven of the past 12 home games and has just scored just two goals in that same time.
Parise recently spoke out on the team’s struggles on the power play when he said, “It feels like it’s five strangers on the ice.” Given the struggles the offense has seen at home, you pretty much could blanket that statement to any situation — not just the power play — for the Wild.
With just four out of nine remaining games at home — and one of them, Colorado, against teams not in the playoffs — the Wild will have to make a much stronger push to win those games and get the job done on the road as well. Minnesota currently sits one point behind Arizona for the final Wild Card spot, and the Coyotes have a game in hand, which will be made up Monday night against Tampa Bay.
If the Wild do end up missing the playoffs this season, you can certainly go back and point at their play in St. Paul as a big contributor to the problem.
While the Wild like to promote it as ‘Our Ice,’ it more or less has been ‘Their Ice.’ A horrid season for a team that prides itself on its play at home.