Wild Check-In: Gaudreau Succeeds, Hartman Still Struggles

For the last time this season, the Wild played only one game in a week. They faced the Chicago Blackhawks in a 5-0 win before the All-Star Break. It took the Wild longer to get on the scoreboard than usual, but in the second period, they scored three straight and then scored two more in the third to close out the game.

Despite being without Marcus Foligno and Matt Dumba, their lineup didn’t falter, and their top lines continued to shine while their goaltenders remained strong. However, new names were added to the list of players who succeeded and those who struggled.

Wild’s Gaudreau Made List

All the usual suspects were successful – Mats Zuccarello, Kirill Kaprizov, and Kevin Fiala – but Frederick Gaudreau joins the list. He tallied the Wild’s first goal of the game on the power play. He also earned an assist for his second point of the night when Fiala scored to put the Wild up 4-0. This was Gaudreau’s second multi-point game of the season and his second game-winning goal.

Frederick Gaudreau Minnesota Wild
Frederick Gaudreau, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Zuccarello and Fiala also tallied two points – a goal and an assist each – against the Blackhawks while Kaprizov scored a goal for his 19th of the season. If not for an injury that forced him to miss one game, Kaprizov would have 12 straight games with a point. However, with the injury, he’s on an 8-game scoring streak with 13 points.

The Wild’s forwards have a way of stealing the show but their goaltending continues to be on fire. Since Cam Talbot’s return from injury, he has saved almost every shot thrown at him. He stopped all 30 shots from the Blackhawks for his first shutout of the season, and in his three games back, he’s faced 72 shots and stopped all but three.

Wild’s Eriksson Ek & Hartman Struggle

A couple of players didn’t have a horrible performance against the Blackhawks but couldn’t find the back of the net either. Joel Eriksson Ek has been quiet offensively of late. His longest point streak of the season was four consecutive games earlier in the season. Even when isn’t hitting the scoreboard, he’s helping out on defense with blocked shots or takeaways, but he wasn’t able to contribute either against the Blackhawks.

Related: Wild Have 3 Good Targets at the Trade Deadline

Ryan Hartman led the team in goals for most of the season, but recently he’s struggled to score also. Against the Blackhawks, he had a surprising lack of shots on the net, with two, below his average of three or more. It’s tough to understand why he’s struggling to score, but hopefully, he will figure it out soon.

Wild’s All-Stars

Kaprizov and Talbot made their first-time appearances at the All-Star Game over the weekend. They both did well in the skills competition. Kaprizov paid homage to Alex Ovechkin – his favorite player – and scored off a right-handed shot. Talbot did well in the save streak competition but was beat by the Atlantic Division. They both played well in their three-on-three games but lost to the Metropolitan Division.

They’ll rejoin the team – who enjoyed a five-day break during the All-Star festivities – when the Wild hit the road for one game before their last three-day break of the season. Following that break, it’ll be a race to the finish.

Wild’s Crazy Schedule

The Wild start their revised schedule on the road against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. These next two weeks will hold all of the Wild’s previously postponed games as they catch up to the rest of their rivals in games played. After they face the Jets, they’ll head home to face the Carolina Hurricanes, one of the best teams in the league.

The good news is they’ll have Foligno back against the Jets, but Dumba was placed on the injured reserve as the taxi squads have ended for the time being. Nick Bjugstad, who’s been out since shortly after the Winter Classic, was also added to the injured reserve list as he continues to recover from an upper-body injury.

Nick Bjugstad Minnesota Wild
Nick Bjugstad, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

These next few weeks will be the real test to see if the Wild have what it takes to go all the way. It’s been a while since they’ve played every other day consistently, and it will be a challenge. Hopefully, the Wild are prepared and can rally through the next two months or more of non-stop hockey.

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