For a period, Minnesota played like they were capable of playing on even terms with top-seeded Dallas in the Stanley Cup playoffs with score tied at 0-0. Unfortunately for the Wild, the game continued.
Minnesota was extremely physical with the Stars to begin the contest and it worked, taking Dallas out of any sort of offensive rhythm. The Wild were somewhat lucky they escaped three different minor penalties they incurred against the league’s fourth-best power play. However, after that juncture, coach Lindy Ruff had his team move the puck a little quicker, Dallas avoided hits and defensively turned the screws on Minnesota and they won going away 4-0.
Without Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek, interim coach John Torchetti lacks the answers to find players who can score. In losing six straight, Minnesota has tallied a grand total of six goals and been shutout twice. With extremely limited options, the Wild tried the physical method, but they could not make it last. Trying to play faster to generate more offensive chances will not work, as they lack the players to play that way, certainly on the road, and besides that is the preference of their high-scoring opponent.
Minnesota best option might be to slow the game down to a crawl, play the game between the blue lines and frustrate Dallas. Not allowing them to make long passes takes away one major element of their offense and if they can keep the middle of the ice clogged, it would work to their advantage.
Offensively, the Wild have to keep making the extra pass to force their opponent to play defense and if they have puck possession, this might make the Stars anxious and they draw penalties, creating more offensive opportunities for Minnesota.
Otherwise, the Wild have to be strong with the puck and goalie Devan Dubnyk has to be better.
It was not like the Stars players didn’t know Minnesota would start out trying to bump them off their game, yet it was clear by body language they were bothered. Coach Ruff’s crew figured it out, particularly Jason Spezza, who scored and added an assist. It was his first playoff action in three years when he was Ottawa and played with the necessary passion.
The fact is Dallas has so many more offensive ways to score than Minnesota, the team’s truly greatest worry is being overconfident and taking it for granted they win the game. This essentially happened on Jan.9 in American Airlines Arena.