The numbers don’t lie. Minnesota is one of the best defensive teams in the NHL. Just don’t call the Wild passive. New coach Mike Yeo hates it when people make that assumption.
“Just the word passive really irks me,” Yeo told ESPN. “There’s nothing passive about the way we play. I don’t think teams that are playing against us are going to be under the impression that we’re a passive team. We always have somebody pressuring the puck. We like to do it where we have good structure and we’re protecting certain areas and we’re taking away certain options.”
Minnesota forward Kyle Brodziak concurs, telling Puck Daddy that the team doesn’t get enough credit for playing aggressive hockey. The Wild doesn’t trap, he maintains. That’s just its unshakable reputation.
“It’s a different style than what Jacques Lemaire would be coaching,” said Brodziak. “Mike preaches being aggressive on the forecheck. You look at other teams that are playing more defensively, and I don’t think they’re as aggressive. We’re playing our best when the first guy’s going after the puck as hard as he can. We want to put pressure on teams.”
After 28 games, the Wild is 18-7-3 and first overall in the NHL. Only two teams – Boston (2.04) and St. Louis (2.11) – are surrendering fewer goals per game than Minnesota (2.14).
On the other hand, only five teams are scoring fewer goals per game than the Wild (2.39). Thus, all the tightly-fought contests, like Tuesday’s 2-1 win in San Jose.
In fact, Minnesota hasn’t won by more than two goals since Nov. 8, a 3-0 victory over Calgary. And it’s won 10 times since then.
Sustainable? Let’s hear it in the comments section.