The Minnesota Wild’s rematch against the Calgary Flames didn’t go as hoped. It was the second time these two teams met in the last four days and it was another rough outing for both teams as hits were thrown all night. The Flames got out to an early lead, the Wild fought back, but the Flames kept on pressuring to handily win the game.
The Wild were still without Matt Dumba and Jordan Greenway, two players who provide a lot of physicality for the team, and were missed a great deal. The game started with a Wild penalty that turned into a Flames goal and they added another before the end of the period to go up 2-0. Marcus Foligno gave the Wild hope when he scored near the halfway mark of the second period, bringing them back within one.
However, the Flames answered back and kept going. They added two more goals in the third period and ended the game 5-1. It was the Wild’s fourth loss in the last five games. The goaltending took another hit as well, as Cam Talbot took his fourth loss in a row.
Wild Play Undisciplined
The Wild tried to play a more physical game to keep up with the Flames but it ended up backfiring horribly. In the end, they went too far in the opposite direction and were focused more on hitting than puck control. In the last game, they trailed the Flames 29-15 in hits, this time it flipped and they led 48-34. Those 48 hits were the most they’ve recorded this season.
Foligno kept his hitting game the same with four in each game against the Flames, but in the second meeting, he seemed to hit with more force. He wasn’t the only one who turned up his physicality, Ryan Hartman went from zero hits in the first game to six in the second. It didn’t help their game in the end, and if they play another team like the Flames, they need to find the perfect balance of physicality and skill and not focus too much on the hitting.
Wild’s Special Teams Continue to Suffer
The Wild’s penalty kill has been on the back burner for some time now and it’s shown. In the last nine out of 10 games, they have been scored on while shorthanded. They’ve let in a goal while a man down 38 times this season, one of the most in the league, including twice against the Flames in each game. On the contrary, they’ve only scored once while on the penalty kill.
Dean Evason: “We did everything but score. Our power play sucked and our scoring sucked. …But we took a step into the right direction and not backwards tonight.” #mnwild— Jessi Pierce (@jessi_pierce) March 2, 2022
They also continued to struggle on the power play as they had four chances and couldn’t convert on any. The last time they scored while a man-up was five games ago against the Edmonton Oilers. Both of their power-play units struggled and Flames’ goaltender Jacob Markström was a brick wall once again. The Wild had some small opportunities on both the penalty kill and power play, but he stopped them all.
Wild’s Bright Spots
The Wild’s loss to the Flames was a hard one to take but there were a couple of bright spots in the defeat. Matt Boldy has been playing outstanding since he joined the lineup in January. He’s scored 18 points in 20 games, he took a penalty and had two giveaways against the Flames, but other than that, he was one of the hardest workers on the team.
Boldy was followed closely by another young forward, Connor Dewar. He, like Boldy, had a giveaway but also created several chances with his speed and puck handling abilities and deserved an honorable mention for his work. The last player was Calen Addison, who replaced Jordie Benn. He was quiet in the stats department but generated opportunities when he broke into the offensive zone. He wasn’t able to score but got the momentum going.
Wild’s Next Opponent
The Wild are done with the Flames until the end of April when they face them one more time at home. Next up, they’ll hit the road and head out East where they will face the Philadelphia Flyers and Buffalo Sabres in a back-to-back. The Flyers are really struggling this season but they can’t be underestimated. They will have to keep Cam Atkinson and Claude Giroux off the scoreboard as they currently lead their team in scoring with 39 points each as of Mar. 1.
Similar to the Oilers, the Flyers goaltending has had some trouble this season. Both Carter Hart and Martin Jones have records under .500. Hart has the slightly better stats with a .912 save percentage and 2.87 goals-against average. If they can figure out the goaltender, the Wild’s scorers may be able to get back on track.
Speaking of goaltending, it’s hard to say which one will be in the net between Talbot and Kaapo Kahkonen. They’ve both struggled and need to get back to winning as does the entire team. They’re still in a good position for the playoffs but if the losing continues, that will start to dwindle.
Mariah 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.