This past week was a successful one for the Minnesota Wild, they kept their winning streak alive as they faced the Arizona Coyotes, New Jersey Devils, and Toronto Maple Leafs. They won all three games extending their streak to six, which included a shootout thriller against the Maple Leafs to send them to the west coast on a high note.
Once again, the goaltending needs to be mentioned before diving too deeply into the other aspects of last week. Kaapo Kahkonen and Cam Talbot were a big part of the Wild’s success. Kahkonen had consecutive wins for the second time this season and Talbot came up strong to end the homestand, helping seal the win over the Maple Leafs in the shootout. Apart from their goaltending, the Wild couldn’t have done it without several key players who have stepped up recently.
Wild’s Greenway & Goligoski Joined the Scoring Ranks
Jordan Greenway showed he’s capable of more than physicality this last week and it’s how he earned his spot in this week’s Check-In. He tallied four points in three games that included getting the Wild on the board first against the Maple Leafs. He’s evolved a lot over the duration of this short season from what most would call a “bruiser” to an all-around player capable of scoring goals, throwing hits, and helping his teammates defend their net.
The next player to make this list was Alex Goligoski, he stepped up at both ends of the ice and was barely noticed for it. He got on the scoresheet offensively with three assists but didn’t neglect his defensive duties as he blocked five shots. His stats weren’t hugely impressive but he’s quietly been pushing along and playing well without the attention. There is one more forward who deserves to be on this list but wasn’t as noticeable as Greenway. That player was Mats Zuccarello, who came back from an injury that caused him to miss two games. In his first two games back from injury, he recorded two points, an assist in one game and a goal in the next.
He brings more to the lineup than points however, the amount of intensity he plays with makes everyone around him better. Even Kirill Kaprizov who seems to play at the top of his game all the time picks up a step when he’s on a line with Zuccarello. He’s the type of player that can change a game and the Wild should be very happy to have him back. They’re still missing Jared Spurgeon and Frederick Gaudreau, but having Zuccarello back is a big boost.
Wild Struggle as a Whole
Normally in the second section of this series, the players who struggled the most are discussed. This week is going to be different, the Wild didn’t really have a single player to point out who needed work. Instead, the entire team has one specific area they need to fix. That area is consistency, something every team has to work on at some point, but the Wild have struggled with it all season despite their success. It became apparent most recently in their win over the Maple Leafs. They came out and had a great first period but then in the second, things fell apart and they allowed the Maple Leafs to climb back in rather than keep adding to their own lead.
Some of that couldn’t be helped such as the goal that bounced off Talbot’s shoulder and into the net, nothing could have been done. However, the Wild can’t let things like that get under their skin. They need to find a way to buckle down and continue to play their game despite bad bounces. The Maple Leafs are a very talented team but so are the Wild, they just have to play like it. If the Wild can figure out how to keep the level of play they had in the first period against the Maple Leafs the entirety of the game, they’ll be a very difficult team to beat.
The Wild’s Week Ahead
The Wild will continue to be tested as they head on the road for their next week of games. They’ll head to western Canada first to face the Edmonton Oilers, another team that has had a great start to their season. Following the Oilers game, they’ll head to California to face both the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings. Their final game of the road trip will be against the Vegas Golden Knights. The Wild will need Greenway and Goligoski to keep up their scoring and as a team, they’ll need to find a way to stay consistent. If they can do those things they’ll have a strong road trip.
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.