The Minnesota Wild, statistically, had the slight advantage coming into round one of their 2015 post-season — and by the thirty-minute mark of the game, they were showing why.
A goal by Jason Zucker 2:48 into the first period put the Wild on the board to start, but a power play slapper by Matt Dumba — earning the 2012 first round pick his first-ever career NHL playoff tally — edged them ahead even further, widening the scoring gap by two and keeping the St. Louis Blues floundering to come back from behind.
For the Blues, going down 2-0 before the end of the second period poses an interesting problem. Although the team employs one of the better goaltending tandems in the league, they’ve been making it a habit to ride the hot starter — and Jake Allen, by and large, has been the stronger player in net down the final stretch. If he’s struggling in the post-season, the team has to make a choice — either swap him out for the team’s traditional starter, Brian Elliott, or keep him in and hope he eventually regresses back in a positive direction.
For the Wild, though, this is the best-case scenario.
If Devan Dubnyk — who has posted some of the best numbers in the league since being dealt to Minnesota in January — can continue to maintain a solid net presence (he’s been slightly regressing back to he league average over the final few weeks of the season, although nearly forty consecutive starts likely factored into that), all the team needs is a variety of scoring from both their primary goal-scorers and the secondary characters who the team hopes will step up in the post-season.
Judging by Dumba’s immediate on-ice impact — throughout the 2014-2015 campaign, the blue liner registered eight goals and eight helpers throughout his fifty-eight on-ice appearances — is any indication, though, the team won’t have too much trouble with that.