When the Minnesota Wild jumped out to a 4-1-1 start to the 2015-16 season, it did so riding the back of six players that accounted for all 17 of the Wild’s goals. Six of those goals were scored by Zach Parise, while Nino Niederreiter and Thomas Vanek each chipped in three.
Fast forward a year later, the Wild – under the leadership of Bruce Boudreau as opposed to Mike Yeo – are out to 3-2-1 start through six games. Despite one fewer win, Minnesota has scored 19 times. Fifteen players have accounted goals for a more balanced, spread out offense for the Wild. The closest team to that number is Montreal and the New York Islanders, who are tied for second, with 13.
Last season, the Wild had just 22 players score goals over the course of its 82-game slate, in which Minnesota came out with two points in just 38 of those games, tied for 18th in the NHL. The Wild managed to get into the playoffs because of the ever-lovely three-point play, getting the extra point via loss in overtime/shootout 11 times. They were knocked out in the first round by Dallas, in six games.
So what does this mean? Well, while depth and secondary scoring are big pieces of a puzzle when it comes to winning hockey (credit: conventional wisdom), the correlation from number of goal scorers to number of wins don’t appear to have much of a relationship. There were just two teams that finished behind Minnesota in the goal scorer count last season – Colorado and Dallas, each with 21. Dallas won 50 games and came within one win of the Western Conference finals, falling to St. Louis in seven games in the second round. While Colorado missed the playoffs, the Avalanche won 39 games, one more than the Wild’s count of 38. Winnipeg and the New York Rangers had 22 different goal scorers, which didn’t get in the way of the latter of the two clubs qualifying for the playoffs for the 10th time in 11 seasons.
As for the two Stanley Cup final participants, the Campbell Bowl-winning San Jose Sharks had 23 different goal scorers. The champion Pittsburgh Penguins had 24, the third straight year the team that won the Stanley Cup had fewer than 25 goal scorers in the regular season. The Blackhawks had just 21 in 2014-15; Los Angeles had 22 in 2013-14.
It’s one of the bright spots for the Wild, who are tied with St. Louis for eighth in goals, with 19. However, Minnesota has allowed 19 goals of their own and score/venue adjusted five-on-five corsi-for is 15th, at 48.98 percent.
Regardless, it’s not the worst place to be.