Faceoff: No panic yet, but Wild off to slow start
PHERSY:Well Feldy, your Minnesota Wild are not off to the red-hot start many Wild fans expected. Instead, they're winless heading into tonight's home game against the Winnipeg Jets. The Wild have lost in overtime, a shootout and regulation, so at least they're mixing it up. Feldy, I can't imagine you're hitting the panic button just yet. But should Wild fans be mildly concerned?
FELDY: I can appreciate the Wild fans' desire to panic, but I can't bring myself to want to fire Mike Yeo or trade Zach Parise and his salary away after three games. Still, goaltending has to be a concern, with Nik Backstrom leaving Tuesday's game with an injury and Josh Harding never knowing when his MS could cause him to miss days or weeks.
PHERSY:Goaltending was a bit of a concern going in, unless you were a huge Backstrom guy. I'd say their inability, with all that fire power, to put the puck in the net through three games is the biggest concern. Yep, it's just three games. But everyone preached how much better this team would be offensively after having last season together. They still clearly aren't on the same page. It's just three games, so I will give them a pass. And I still believe the goals will come.
FELDY: Sure, he's only 21, but Charlie Coyle's injury is a big deal as far as the offense goes. He earned the second-line center job out of camp and was playing his role very well before getting injured in just the second game of the regular season. Coyle made a couple of mistakes in last Thursday's season opener — including one that led directly to a Los Angeles goal — but he also was the Wild's best forward at times. There's too much offensive talent on this roster for the team to lack scoring. What about the defense so far? Do you still think the Wild need to add another blue-liner or two?
PHERSY:Feldy, it wouldn't bother me if they did, but I don't think the blue line is the problem so far. I've actually been pleased with the progress of a few guys, and I'd like to see more of Matt Dumba before I make an assessment about his readiness. Jonas Brodin and Ryan Suter have picked up right where they left off. But, Marco Scandella doesn't appear to be the defender he was late last season, instead looking more like the guy they kept at the beginning of last season. Keith Ballard has been a solid addition, but they'll need more from that unit to be successful over the long haul.
FELDY: I'm with you, Phersy, the defensive corps has been solid so far and it's obvious they're looking to actively be a part of the offense. Suter, Brodin, Dumba and Jared Spurgeon are constantly looking for chances to join the attack. It's a risk for those guys to leave the blue line but it's obvious that the Wild aren't going to score much with just three guys battling below the dots. Phersy, GM Chuck Fletcher has said it won't do Dumba much good to be returned to his major junior team in Red Deer. If he's not returned, he'll have to stay on the Wild's NHL roster all season, which means they need to play him on an almost-nightly basis.
PHERSY:It's a bit puzzling, but Fletcher is wiser than I am. So, OK, he stays in Minnesota. But like you said Feldy, that means he's playing almost every night. So far, he's been a healthy scratch twice. I'm sure that will pick up, and hopefully it's soon. ... I guess the bottom line is there should be no panic, but there is reason for concern. Falling behind quickly in the conference standings can be disastrous and the uphill grind will take its toll.