The Minnesota Wild continued their homestand this week with three teams they faced for the first time this season. They ended the week 2-1 and were victorious over both the Winnipeg Jets and Arizona Coyotes but couldn’t get past the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite the success they had this week, they’re still without some key members of their lineup due to injury. Brandon Duhaime was injured again in their game against the Jets, and Ryan Hartman remains out from an injury sustained at the end of October.
Luckily for the Wild, they did get Marc-André Fleury back after he missed three games and while he did lose his first game back, he had a great comeback effort in their win over the Coyotes. Despite their success this past week, they’ve had the unfortunate luck of losing a player as soon as one returns from injury. The most recent was after Fleury returned, within the next couple of days, they lost Jonas Brodin to a lower-body injury and it’s unclear when he’ll return.
This week’s Check-In had a lot of emotional ups and downs for the Wild from their huge win over the Jets to their crushing one-goal loss to the Maple Leafs, and that doesn’t even include all the injuries. With everything that happened, they still had a number of players step up to secure those wins, while some stepped down and will need to improve.
Wild’s Kaprizov & Boldy Score Big
Despite all the injury news, the Wild’s leading scorer Kirill Kaprizov kept up his play and led the team once again with seven points in three games. He started the week off with a goal and assist in each of their games against the Jets and Maple Leafs, then capped it off with a goal and two assists in their win over the Coyotes.
Thankfully for the Wild, another player found his scoring touch that had disappeared for a bit early on and that player was Matt Boldy. He started out the season on a hot streak with five points in the first three games but then hit a roadblock. He’d put up a few points here and there but nothing big until this last week.
While Kaprizov led the team’s efforts against the Coyotes, Boldy led them against the Jets. He had a goal and two assists that helped give him the motivation to score a goal in each of their following two games. Hopefully, Kaprizov and Boldy can keep up the scoring as they face tougher teams this coming week.
Wild’s Rossi Heads to Iowa
The time finally came to send Marco Rossi to the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League (AHL) after a not-so-great beginning to his NHL career. He had chemistry with a number of players but couldn’t get that scoring magic to work with just one point in 16 games, and he sat the last three before being sent down. After the Wild finally got some healthy players back into the lineup and they didn’t need him to fill a roster spot, they felt it was safe to send him down so he could get some confidence back before trying the NHL again.
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While the Rossi news was disappointing, it was also necessary as he was in need of a confidence boost and a chance to score some goals, which is something he can do in the AHL. There were two other players who also struggled in this last week of games, and they were Frédérick Gaudreau and Connor Dewar. Gaudreau led the Wild’s scoring over the last few weeks but he hit a scoring drought this last week with zero points in the last three games.
Dewar also had zero points but he typically plays on the fourth line due to his physical play and usually doesn’t get a lot of chances to score. While he’s been struggling to score any goals, he’s been playing very well as of late and if he keeps forcing things the puck will start to go in, he just has to be patient.
Wild’s Quiet but Tough Week
The Wild’s upcoming week isn’t a typical schedule, they started out the week with three days off and then play three games within four days. They’ll begin the week at home again but finish things up on the road for the first time in a couple of weeks. Their first game will be against the Edmonton Oilers and end on a back-to-back against the Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars.
Of course, the Wild’s defense is going to have their hands full with scorers like Connor McDavid, Leon Draisital, Trevor Zegras, Troy Terry, Jason Robertson, and Jamie Benn. If their goaltending duo of Fleury and Filip Gustavsson, who’s back after a one-game injury, can keep those players off the scoreboard, their offense has to step up as well.
The Wild’s offense will have to find a way past the goaltending of Jack Campbell or Stuart Skinner for the Oilers, Anthony Stolarz or John Gibson for the Ducks and finally Jake Oettinger or Scott Wedgewood for the Stars. Their first game against the Oilers will be a tough one but hopefully, the Wild can have the same kind of success they did against them last season when they won all three match-ups. If the Wild can have that same success against the Oilers to start their next stretch of games, they’ll be off to a great start.
Mariah Stark (Holland) is a contributing Minnesota Wild writer for THW. She’s been covering the Wild at THW since October of 2020 and specializes in game takeaways and weekly check-ins. She is always looking for different angles to cover the Wild and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team to help fans connect on a more personal level and to keep an eye on the latest follow her on Twitter @MariahEStark.