Wild’s Offense Not Enough Against Crosby & Penguins

The Minnesota Wild opened their seven-game homestand on Thursday, Nov. 17 wearing their Reverse Retro jerseys that are a tribute to the Minnesota North Stars and are some of the best-looking jerseys around. They played against the Pittsburgh Penguins and many won’t be surprised to hear Sidney Crosby got the opening goal to start things off. The Wild started from behind once again thanks to his early goal and while they didn’t let that stop their fight, they struggled to score once again.

Crosby’s was just the first Penguins goal of the period, as another one was scored late to give them a two-goal lead, putting the Wild on their heels a bit. They went into the second down two but it wouldn’t last long as they scored back-to-back goals within 12 seconds of each other and tied it up. However, the Penguins got one late in the period and took the lead once again heading into the third.

The Penguins extended their lead to 4-2 early on in the third but the Wild’s fight wasn’t over. They responded just over the halfway mark of the period to get within one but the Penguins answered back to get their lead back to two goals as time started to run out. Before the Wild could begin to mount a comeback the Penguins secured an empty-net goal to increase their lead to three. The Wild did get one final goal to close out the game but ended up falling by a score of 6-4.

Crosby is Still Crosby

When people hear that the Penguins are coming to town, the first name that pops into their head is Crosby. For the last 18 seasons, he’s been the face of that franchise and while he’s 35 years old, he’s still recording points like when he was in his 20s. He may not play at the same pace as back then, but this season he’s played 17 games and has nine goals plus 12 assists for 19 points, and doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Wild got to see the talent of Crosby right away as he scored the first of the game, and went on to set up a goal for teammate Kris Letang before scoring his second of the night on the power play to really seal the deal for the Penguins. As if he hadn’t scored enough already, he tallied one more assist on their final goal before the night was over and left with four points. Hopefully the next time the Wild face the Penguins, they’ll be more equipped to put a stop to not only Crosby but the entire team.

Wild 180 with Physicality

The Wild had a rough time in their previous game against the Nashville Predators especially when it came to physicality. They were outhit 43-22 and the constant barrage definitely took a toll on the team. This time against the Penguins they did the hitting – but it didn’t get them a victory either, in fact, it went against them at times.

The Wild outhit the Penguins 29-25 with the new version of the “GREEF” line, also possibly known as the “FEED” line, taking most of the hits. That line now consists of Marcus Foligno, Joel Eriksson Ek, and taking Jordan Greenway’s place temporarily, Brandon Duhaime. Foligno and Duhaime led the Wild with seven and six hits respectively, while the final member of that line, Eriksson Ek had three hits.

Related: Wild’s Loss to Predators Had Some Positives With the Negatives

It seems the Wild have trouble figuring out how physical to be, and when the right time is for those big game-changing hits. This is something they’ll have to figure out as the season goes on or they’ll continue to lose games, and end up in the penalty box when the hits are too aggressive.

Wild’s New “GREEF” Line

While not a lot of things went right for the Wild when they took on the Penguins, one thing that did was the chemistry of the “FEED” line, as The Athletic‘s Michael Russo nicknamed them on Twitter during the game. They weren’t as smooth as the “GREEF” line was last season but the more time they spend together, they might reach that point. Three of the Wild’s four goals came from that line with Duhaime scoring their first of the night and Eriksson Ek tallying the next two. Foligno didn’t score a goal but he did record the lone assist on Duhaime’s goal that got things going for the Wild.

It’ll be interesting to see what direction the Wild go as it’s expected Greenway will be able to play at some point during this homestand. Do they move Duhaime, put Greenway on a different line, or move one of the other guys? It’s really hard to say, but since this was the only line to generate any offense for the Wild in this game it’ll be hard to break them up.

It would be interesting to see Foligno possibly move onto a line with maybe Sam Steel and Connor Dewar and put Greenway back with Duhaime and Eriksson Ek. Depending on when Greenway is ready to go, the Wild may have a while to figure this situation out or just a day if he comes back this weekend. The other issue is Marco Rossi needs to be on a different line after struggling a bit being paired with Tyson Jost and Steel, so switching things around may be good for almost everyone involved.

Wild Face Hurricanes

It’s safe to say the Wild will be expecting better of themselves when they take on their next opponent, the Carolina Hurricanes at home on Saturday, Nov. 19. They’ll still be without Ryan Hartman, and at this point, it’s unclear if Greenway will play. They will also continue to be without Marc-André Fleury who was placed on injured reserve, so Filip Gustavsson will get the start once again with Zane McIntyre backing him up.

The Hurricanes are having another strong season and will not be an easy team to beat especially if the Wild don’t find a way to play better. They will have a lot of trouble stopping Martin Necas, Andrei Svechnikov, Sebastian Aho, and former Wild player Brent Burns if they can’t play better defense. Hopefully, their “FEED” line can get something going against either Antti Raanta or Pyotr Kochetkov in goal and help jumpstart this team to get some wins back in their record.

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