What Has Plagued the Minnesota Wild Power Play?

Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Since Matt Dumba left the ice on Dec. 15 against Calgary, the Wild power play has gone from up over 26 percent to now at just 22 percent. The outage of production on the power play has not taken the Wild out of the top 10 in the league, but there have been many times where the power play has gone an entire two minutes without any sustained offensive pressure.

There have just been three instances when the Wild have scored with the man advantage since Dumba — the team’s leading power play scorer with six goals — went out with injury.

If you notice on the above chart, all three of those power play goals have come in the friendly confines of Xcel Energy Center. In fact, the last time the Wild scored with the man advantage away from St. Paul was when they scored three against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.

Here are the three goals the Wild have scored since Dumba went out of the lineup.

On the rush, a tip-in goal, and a set play right off the draw. The only one that scored where the Wild had set up the power play in the offensive zone was Zucker’s tip-in goal against Winnipeg.

Getting set up and getting shots has been a difficulty of late for Bruce Boudreau’s team. Reviewing the video you see the Wild are struggling in many areas of their power play.

First let’s just look at what happens when the Wild try and gain the zone.

This was all on the same power play. The Wild try to take three different entries into the zone and each time get absolutely nowhere. The first two times the Wild try dumping in the puck but are unable to successfully retrieve it and set up the offense. The third time the Wild actually try carrying the puck in across the line and get snuffed out instantly as well.

To end the power play, the Wild would get called offsides. But the greater point is that the Wild have often tried dumping the puck in and have been very unsuccessful in getting to the puck.

Tuukka Rask — obviously aware of what the Wild did on the first power play — gets behind the net when the Wild try to dump the puck in. He stops the puck and/or gets the puck over to his defense, who clears the zone.

Two power plays — and many others before it — have gone to waste because the Wild were not able to get puck possession established in the offensive zone.

So what happens in the instances when the Wild actually *do* gain the zone and are able to set up possession?

Mikael Granlund is able to successfully carry the puck in, and even though the puck gets knocked off his stick, Ryan Suter is able to retrieve it right behind him. The power play gets set up with Granlund getting the puck on the wall like he normally does. On this power play, Jason Zucker is in the spot that Dumba would have otherwise have been in on the far side, and instead of trying to feed Zucker for a one-timer Granlund dumps the puck down low to try and get a goal that way.

Granlund not getting the puck to the other wing has also been a recurring theme.

Another successful carry-in, another instance where the Wild try to get the puck down low instead of utilizing the wing on the far side. This time it was Charlie Coyle on the far side with Mikko Koivu.

Minnesota was able to get set up and deployed the same 1-3-1 power play structure they have had all season. Problem is, Koivu on the wall isn’t as confident in firing a pass across the ice to Coyle as Dumba, who has a shot more equipped for the power play than Coyle.

As you can see, with just about the same setup, Granlund was able to fire one over to Dumba, and he buried it. This wasn’t the first time where Granlund found Dumba in this manner.

The Wild simply do not have another player on the roster who can replace Dumba’s shot on the power play. While they can correct their issues of establishing puck possession — which can be solved by carrying the puck into the zone more often — they may have to find alternative ways to create goals while the blue-liner is out with a ruptured pectoralis muscle.

So unless the Wild can continue to pick up goals on the rush or off set faceoff plays, they may be in for an extended period of power-play drought. Not a great sight for a team trying to remain in playoff position.

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