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

The Minnesota Wild spent the last week on the road and played three games, one each against the Washington Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes, and Florida Panthers. They started out on a high note with a win over the Capitals but finished with losses against the Hurricanes and Panthers. Unlike in the past few months, the Wild’s roster remained fully healthy but with a slight change, Matt Dumba was a healthy scratch in favor of Alex Goligoski.

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The switch caused a lot of trade rumors to circulate and they increased when Dumba was scratched for a second straight game thanks to Goligoski’s good play. There were a number of other players who stepped up even more than Goligoski but there were also some who struggled greatly in the past week.

Wild’s Eriksson Ek Continues Grind

Joel Eriksson Ek is one of those players who consistently works hard 100 percent of the time and he’s been rewarded for that play over the last few weeks. This past week he recorded two goals and two assists for four points in three games, with two of those coming in the same game for his 10th multi-point game of the season. He’s just three games shy of tying his career-high of 13 multi-point games from last season and two assists away from tying his career-high of 23 assists, also from last season.

Joel Eriksson-Ek Minnesota Wild
Joel Eriksson-Ek, Minnesota Wild (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While Eriksson Ek led the way, he wasn’t alone, the team’s leading scorer Kirill Kaprizov was up to his normal tricks as he also tallied four points in the past three games. The number of points wasn’t the only thing these two players had in common, they each recorded three of their four points while on the power play. They were two peas in a pod this past week as they both played on the Wild’s number one power play unit and helped each other accumulate their points.

The third and final member who belongs on the success list was a defenseman who’s been on this list a number of times already and that is captain Jared Spurgeon. He once again did well both offensively and defensively, he even contributed physically. He scored three goals in the past week with two of those coming in their game against the Capitals for his first multi-goal game of the season.

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On the defensive side of things, Spurgeon continued to lay his body down in front of every shot he could and was credited with six blocked shots last week. Along with those blocked shots he also had one takeaway and three hits. He’s well on his way to having one of his best seasons yet and hopefully, the production continues.

Wild’s Steel Drops Back

After Sam Steel and the top line had a successful week at home two weeks ago, they went on the road, and Steel’s points disappeared. Despite both his linemates Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello registering points in the last week, he was unable to find the back of the net himself. However, while he struggled offensively, he did find some small success on the defensive side with two blocked shots that somewhat made up for his lack of points.

Sam Steel Anaheim Ducks
Sam Steel, former Anaheim Ducks, current Minnesota Wild (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The other two members of this list belong on the “GREEF” line together, Marcus Foligno and Jordan Greenway. Eriksson Ek may have been quite successful with most of his points on the power play, but his regular linemates couldn’t find any offensive success. They kept up with the physical expectations for their line as they finished first and second on the team in hits. However their line has proven it can score in the past and they need to find that ability soon so they can help their team win games, as physicality only goes so far.

Wild’s Upcoming Week

The Wild will once again play three games in the upcoming week but thankfully they’ll be coming back home. They’ll play their first game on the road against the Tampa Bay Lightning but then catch a plane back home to face both the Philadelphia Flyers and the Buffalo Sabres before taking the next week off for the All-Star break.

After some rough games, the Wild’s defense will have their hands full once again trying to stop Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, Travis Konecny, Kevin Hayes, Scott Laughton, Tage Thompson, Rasmus Dahlin, and Alex Tuch from scoring. Their defense won’t be the only ones busy, their offense will have to find ways to get past Lightning goaltenders Andrei Vasilevskiy or Brian Elliott, Flyers’ goaltenders Carter Hart or Felix Sandstrom, and Sabres’ goaltenders Craig Anderson or Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

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The Wild will need Eriksson Ek, Kaprizov, and Spurgeon to keep up with their scoring but they’ll also need Steel, Foligno, and Greenway to find a way to tally points again. If all of those players can contribute offensively, as well as pull their weight defensively, the Wild have a great chance at getting back on the winning track.