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Power Rankings: Punchless Wild giving goaltenders no room for error

by | CBSSports.com NHL Blogger

The Wild have scored just seven goals during their six-game skid heading into Monday. (Getty Images)  
The Wild have scored just seven goals during their six-game skid heading into Monday. (Getty Images)  

Updated Dec. 26

The Minnesota Wild have lost six games in a row and scored just seven goals during that streak.

Offense has been a major problem for the Wild, and that's a large reason I haven't been buying into what they have been selling. As a team, they've been relying way too much on goaltenders Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding, and if their play slumps or regresses even a little between the pipes (and it probably will), it is going to be a problem for the Wild because offensively they have almost no margin for error.

That said, even with Minnesota's six-game slump illustrating its glaring lack of offense, I'm not quite ready to say this is the beginning of the end of its early-season success. At least, not yet. What's been hurting Minnesota over the past two weeks has been the absence of star center Mikko Koivu, who hasn't played since Dec. 14. Since he went out of the lineup, the team has earned just one (a shootout loss to the Islanders) of a possible eight points in the standings and has scored just three goals in four games.

The Wild's offense has disappeared, they've struggled in the faceoff circle, and Koivu is also one of their best and most important defensive forwards, called on to handle the toughest assignments, playing against the other team's top line and taking the always important defensive zone draws.

Koivu is the team's most valuable player who's not a goalie, and his absence has been huge. He is expected to return to the lineup Monday when the Wild take on the Colorado Avalanche, and it couldn't come at a better time.


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