Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 11/11/13 at 03:05 PM ET
from Elliotte Friedman of CBC,
After the Chicago Blackhawks eliminated Minnesota in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring, the Wild came to a hard realization about their style.
"We weren't going to take the next step, become a serious contender, unless we changed the way we played offensively," Wild head coach Mike Yeo said Sunday. "I have bit my lip a couple of times on the bench ... but we're going to live with the risk to get more reward."
Minnesota was the ultimate dump-it-in team in 2012-13, constantly trying to put it behind the defence and chase it down. It didn't really work. Its minus-5 goal differential was the worst of any playoff team and it didn't scare the Blackhawks at all in losing the five-game series.
Through 18 games this season, though, the Wild are plus-8. Goaltender Josh Harding's unreal start is a major reason. But so is the organization's decision to try and play more with the puck.
Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher is a believer in advanced statistics. Behind the scenes, there is a lot of research being done on how much of an advantage it is to gain the opposing blue-line as opposed to dumping it in.
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