Wild Check-In: Boldy, Eriksson Ek, Hartman & Steel

In the final week before the Minnesota Wild began their All-Star Break, they played three games and thankfully the week ended on a high note. They faced the Tampa Bay Lightning on the road and then the Philadelphia Flyers and Buffalo Sabres at home. They started the week off with a tough loss to the Lightning but they found some magic back at home with wins over the Flyers and Sabres.

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The Wild’s most successful players didn’t change much from week to week and remained in the top but they did get a new top scorer. There was also a new player added to the struggling list while the rest stayed the same. The Wild ended the week with a 2-1 record but they had a lot of players who couldn’t produce. Hopefully, that will change when they come back from the break.

Wild’s Boldy Shines

Matt Boldy is well on his way to having a career year and he’s also on pace for his first 50-plus point season. He’s had some up and down weeks this season but this past week he tallied an assist against the Lightning and then helped carry his team past the Flyers with two goals and an assist for a three-point night. It was his third three-point night of the season and his four overall points led the team for the week.

Matt Boldy Minnesota Wild
Matt Boldy, Minnesota Wild (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While Boldy sits at 36 points, just shy of 40, his teammate Joel Eriksson Ek has already hit the 40-point mark and was right behind Boldy in points last week. Eriksson Ek continued his persistent, grinding style and tallied two goals and an assist for three points. In the Wild’s last Check-In, most of his points came on the power play, but this week he tallied just one, a power play goal that got his team back into the game against the Sabres.

Related: Wild Check-In: Eriksson Ek, Kaprizov, Spurgeon & Steel

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Eriksson Ek wasn’t the only Wild player to record three points; so did linemates Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello. They copied each other with a goal and two assists each to make up their three points. All three of Kaprizov’s points came on the power play while two of Zuccarello’s were also on the man advantage. Zuccarello’s only even-strength point was the stellar overtime winner against the Flyers, it was also his first overtime goal of the season.

Wild’s Hartman Drops Off

Ryan Hartman hasn’t had the biggest impact since his return to the lineup, with points here and there, but he has yet to live up to his 65 points in 82 games last season. This past week he really struggled, with zero points but he was also benched for their game against the Flyers because of his recent penalty problems. He did have a decent game following his benching but again couldn’t produce any points.

Ryan Hartman Minnesota Wild
Ryan Hartman, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The other two players have made it onto this list for the second week in a row and it’s not a good place to be. Those players are Jordan Greenway and Sam Steel, and neither of them found a way to record any points in the past three games. Steel has found small success this season with 22 points in 48 games but Greenway has really struggled.

Despite being on the top line, Steel’s points haven’t been consistent, he’ll tally points in a handful of games and then go pointless for an even longer stretch of games. Sadly for Greenway, since returning from multiple injuries he hasn’t contributed any points in over two weeks. These three players need to find a way out of their slumps and start to produce points or their team will struggle to win games.

Wild’s Next Week

This next week is an off week due to the All-Star Game happening on Saturday, Feb. 4 and while most of the Wild roster will be resting, Kaprizov will be playing on both Friday, Jan. 3 in the All-Star Skills Competition and Saturday in the All-Star Game. In the week that follows the All-Star Game, the Wild’s schedule will start to ramp up, with four games that include a mid-week back-to-back.

The first half of the week will be on the road against the Arizona Coyotes and Dallas Stars, with the second half back at home against the Vegas Golden Knights and the New Jersey Devils. The Wild’s defense will have to put a stop to names like Clayton Keller, Lawson Crouse, Nick Schmaltz, Jason Robertson, Joe Pavelski, Roope Hintz, Chandler Stephenson, Jack Eichel, William Karlsson, Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, Nico Hischier, and Dougie Hamilton.

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As always, while the defense deals with the scoring superstars, the Wild’s offense will have to find a way past Karel Vejmelka or Connor Ingram, Jake Oettinger, Logan Thompson or Adin Hill, and Vitek Vanecek or Mackenzie Blackwood. Recently the Wild found ways to win games but they’ll need their successful players to keep scoring and they’ll also need their struggling players to step up. If they can do those things, they will keep this win streak alive.