The Minnesota Wild faced another tough challenge in the Edmonton Oilers, but they found a way to win, tallying their seventh straight. The Wild did several things right to get past the Oilers, including the most important: playing a more consistent game. There were still some issues, but they’re improving. Besides staying steady, the Wild also kept their composure despite some missed calls. They once again had strong performances throughout their roster, with multiple players continuing point streaks and another stellar show by Cam Talbot.
Wild’s Special Teams Remains Strong
The Wild’s penalty kill may have dipped slightly earlier this season, but it’s back to where it should be and worthy of the great reputation they’ve built over the years. The Oilers had five power-play chances, and the Wild killed off all of them, and it was against the best power play in the NHL. Apart from killing off penalties, Joel Eriksson Ek tallied a shot on goal, the only player on the Wild to do that against the Oilers while shorthanded.
Switching to the Wild’s power play, their percentage isn’t the greatest at the moment, but they’re taking small steps to fix it. They scored a power-play goal in their second straight game against the strong Oilers penalty kill. The Wild drew a penalty 33 seconds into the game and capitalized on the chance, scoring their first goal at 1:11. They were able to use that momentum to build their lead later in the period to end it up 2-0. The Wild’s special teams have slowly been improving all season, and this game was a big step in the right direction.
Wild’s Second Period Issues
The Wild have had problems staying consistent when they get an early lead. The most recent troubles started against the Toronto Maple Leafs this past weekend and continued against the Oilers last night. Luckily for the Wild, they were able to get a hold on it before it got out of control. They didn’t go into full collapse mode like against the Maple Leafs, but some things need to be fixed, the foremost being allowing the Oilers to tally so many shots on net.
The Oilers had 20 shots on goal, while the Wild had six in the second period alone. That is a major issue the Wild need to fix, they can’t get outshot to that degree. It’s a lot of unnecessary pressure on their goaltender, although Talbot did outstanding, stopping 19 out of those 20 shots. Without him, the Wild would not have kept their lead. The other issue was penalties, they took two in the second, both stick infractions, thankfully they didn’t lead to any goals scored by the Oilers, but it’s something that needs to be better.
Wild’s Self Control
The Wild are one of the most penalized teams in the league, and in the last two games, they’ve hit a little hard patch with higher penalty numbers. However, it could have been much worse against the Oilers, the Wild were provoked several times by players, including Connor McDavid, who tried to start something with Matt Dumba. For at least the second time this season, Dumba decided to skate away, not take the bait, and it kept him out of the box.
There is one good thing in their penalty stats, and that’s the number of penalties the Wild have drawn. They’ve taken a lot of penalties this season, but they’ve also drawn a lot, the numbers are nearly even, and that’s given them their power-play chances. Against the Oilers, the Wild weren’t so lucky. They drew just two penalties, but as stated before, the most important part was they kept their composure. They could’ve had a lot more than five if they hadn’t stayed poised and skated away, it’s part of the reason they kept their lead.
The Wild Head to the “Golden State”
The Wild will now head south to California for two games against the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings. These teams may not have records like the Wild, but they have to be taken seriously. They have to play the same way they played against both the Maple Leafs and Oilers when they face the Sharks and Kings, but with a more consistent game. They can’t let up, or they’ll struggle, and they’ll need to keep working on their penalty issues.
Mariah Holland is a contributing Minnesota Wild writer for THW as well as a cohost on the THW Youtube show Chicks & Sticks which produces a new show every Friday. She’s been covering the Wild at THW for just over eight months and has been on Chicks & Sticks since it started in early May. She is always looking for different angles to cover the Wild and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team.