Wild’s Kaprizov & Shaw Lift Team, Steel Continues Struggles

The Minnesota Wild had an eventful road trip this past week when they traveled to California and Washington State for a quick three games before they went home for one more. They faced the Los Angeles Kings and Seattle Kraken for the second time this season while they took on the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks for the first time. They secured wins against the Ducks and Kraken but lost to the Kings and Sharks.

Minnesota Wild Celebrate
Minnesota Wild Celebrate (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Despite having some long odds against them with missing key players Jordan Greenway, Marcus Foligno, Ryan Hartman, and Brandon Duhaime at different times during the last week, they managed to come out with a record of 2-1-1. Greenway returned for one game before being injured for the second time this season. They did get Foligno back in their game against the Kraken and he thankfully remained in the lineup. Duhaime has the possibility to rejoin the team this upcoming week but Hartman has no timetable for a return just yet.

Wild’s Kaprizov & Underrated Heroes

Kirill Kaprizov continued his reign as the top scorer for the Wild this last week, he had points in three out of their last four games including two power-play goals in their win over the Ducks, and assisted on goals against the Kraken and Sharks. Points weren’t the only thing he led the team in, he also paced them in shots on goal with 18 and takeaways with five. He did get in some penalty trouble that resulted in ejection from their game against the Kings but luckily he was not suspended and continued to play in their next game.

Kaprizov wasn’t the only player to step up big in the last week for the Wild. However, the other two do not get the same level of recognition. The first was Mason Shaw, and while he doesn’t have the same reputation as Kaprizov, he’s working very hard to change that. Prior to this week, he scored his first two NHL goals and now this week he added his second and third career assists.

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Assists weren’t the only area Shaw excelled at, he tied for second amongst Wild players with 10 shots on goal and he also took second in hits with nine. He’s a gritty player that fights for every point he gets and he’s certainly found his way in the last couple of weeks. He’s even secured a roster spot for the foreseeable future, at least for now.

The final player to make this list was Connor Dewar. He’s in his second season with the Wild and it looks as though he’s here to stay. He played in all four games this past week and recorded two points, which included an outstanding goal in their loss to the Sharks and an assist in their win over the Ducks. It’s great he’s found his scoring touch but his main priority is his defensive game, and he’s kept that at top-notch as well with six hits and five blocked shots.

Wild’s Steel & Offensive Defensemen Struggle

The Wild had a decent week of hockey but a few of their players lacked in the scoring department compared to their teammates. The first of those was Sam Steel and it’s the third week in a row that he’s made this list. He’s played decently but for some reason, he can’t find the back of the net despite some really good chances. He is still new to the team but he’s shown he has great chemistry with his teammates. He just needs to find that scoring touch.

The other two players who’ve landed on this list are struggling but it could be argued their struggles aren’t directly hurting the team just yet. Those players are Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin, both have played great defensively but offensively they’ve recorded nothing. Normally they’re the Wild’s top offensive-producing defensemen but they’ve hit a wall as of late.

Related: Wild’s Eriksson Ek & Kaprizov Shine While Dumba & Steel Falter

Thankfully they’ve kept up their defensive play, but the secret to some of the Wild’s success especially last season was when their defensemen contributed to the scoring. They could’ve used some of that against both the Kings and the Sharks, and things may have ended differently. Hopefully, in this next week, they’ll get back to their scoring ways but keep up the defensive side of their game as well.

Wild’s Week Ahead

The Wild will make a quick stop in Nashville to take on the Predators early in the week and then they’ll be back at home for the rest of the month. Besides the Predators, they’ll face the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Carolina Hurricanes before the week is up. Following these games, they’ll have a nice three-day break to focus on whatever issues may arise.

This week will be another test for the Wild as they take on a struggling but tough Predators team and while the Penguins are currently in the same boat, the Hurricanes’ success this season speaks for itself. The Wild’s defense is going to be very busy trying to keep Filip Forsberg, Mikael Granlund, Matt Duchene, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Martin Necas, Andrei Svechnikov, and Sebastian Aho off the scoresheet. The list could go on but those are the main players to keep an eye on.

Mikael Granlund Nashville Predators
Mikael Granlund, Nashville Predators (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Wild’s offense will have their hands equally full trying to get past the goaltenders they’ll face in the next week. With the Predators, they could see either Juuse Saros or Kevin Lankinen, with the Penguins they could face Casey DeSmith or Tristan Jarry and finally against the Hurricanes they could see a new goalie in Pyotr Kochetkov or a familiar face in Antti Raanta.

Regardless of what goaltenders the Wild’s offense will face in this next week, they’ll have to be ready. The same can be said for their top defensemen who will be trying to stop some of the best scorers in the NHL. Hopefully, Spurgeon and Brodin can find their scoring touch and help their team come out on top in all three of these games.

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