The Minnesota Wild had quite the weekend to open their regular season play. They came from behind to beat the Anaheim Ducks and then defeated the Los Angeles Kings the next night. They snatched wins in back-to-back nights and had several players step up.
Three of those players went above and beyond in their play and earned star of the weekend recognition. These players were picked based on their scoring or all-around play. Their contributions helped secure the sweep in California before heading home for their opener on Tuesday.
Wild’s #1 Star: Marcus Foligno
When Marcus Foligno was named alternate captain during the offseason, it was hardly a surprise. He’s already proven his worth with his play in the first two games of the season. When game one started, it wasn’t pretty, Foligno ended up spending 17 minutes in the penalty box from a combination of a fight and other penalties assessed.
Once those 17 minutes were up, he made sure to make the most of his time on ice. He had three hits throughout the game and had two shots on goal. He scored the game-winning goal with one of those two shots while spinning in a circle and sneaking it through the five-hole of Ducks goaltender Anthony Stolarz.
The very next night against the Kings, Foligno assisted on the eventual game-winning goal scored by Ryan Hartman. He had another physical night with three more hits added to his total for the season equaling six thus far. Every game, he seems to step up in one way or another, whether it be physicality or scoring, and the Wild will need him to continue this trend to secure more wins.
Wild’s #2 Star: Frederick Gaudreau
The newest center in the Wild’s lineup, Frederick Gaudreau, showed he belongs on this team with his quick play and his immediate chemistry with his linemates Kevin Fiala and Victor Rask. In his very first game with the Wild, he didn’t register any points, but he had a few chances, including three shots on net and 15 minutes of ice time.
The next night was really his moment to shine. The Kings got on the board first, but Gaudreau stormed back with the first tying goal of the evening on a great pass from Fiala, who earned his first assist of the season and second overall point. Gaudreau was all over the ice for the Wild and spent time on both the penalty kill and power play.
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If he can continue to play the way he did in these first two games, he will prove to be a true asset to the Wild. He may also be the perfect linemate to match with Fiala’s speed and playmaking ability, as they showcased with Gaudreau’s first goal in a Wild sweater. So far, the two seem to be hitting it off well.
Wild’s #3 Star: Brandon Duhaime
Brandon Duhaime may be the real surprise in this list as he didn’t register a point in either one of the Wild’s wins. He did, however, come extremely close in their game against the Kings. He scored a goal but had it reversed due to goalie interference.
Would have been Duhaime’s first NHL goal, but it looks like it was Sturm’s stick that was the goalie interference.— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) October 17, 2021
Back to 2-1
He made sure not to waste any scoring chances either, he took three shots in both games for a total of six. He averaged a total of 11 minutes on ice between the two games, and he threw his weight around a bit as he recorded five hits.
Duhaime obviously has a long way to go before he reaches the level of Fiala and Kirill Kaprizov, but he’s heading in the right direction. He’s establishing himself as a player who forces his way onto the scene rather than sitting back and letting it unfold. If he keeps pushing the shots like he did this past weekend, he’ll have his first goal in no time and many to follow.
Wild’s Honorable Mentions
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Wild article without mentioning Kaprizov. He had a rough start in their first game against Anaheim, but it didn’t take long for him to find his stride. He hasn’t scored a goal yet but recorded two assists, including one on a beautiful setup for Rask to score the Wild’s first go-ahead goal of the evening.
Fiala can’t be left out either, he scored the Wild’s first goal of the season and an assist for two points on the weekend. He even averaged a whopping 17 minutes on ice per game, registered a hit, and tallied five shots on goal.
Moving on to the final player on the list, and that’s goaltender Cam Talbot. The Wild wouldn’t have won their games without him backstopping them. He saved 57 out of 60 shots over the course of the two games. He had an impressive .950 save percentage and a 1.51 goals-against average. It’s still early in the season, but that is a great way for him to start and the Wild will be looking for him to keep that up as the season moves forward.
There were plenty of Wild players who could have made this list in their California sweep, but these players happened to stand out the most. The Wild struggled early but persevered and came out with the wins and a 2-0-0 record. Their next game is their home opener and will be against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, who will be looking to avenge a loss to the San Jose Sharks.