Another week has gone by and in that time the Minnesota Wild went on another road trip and faced another back-to-back. They were on the west coast once again to take on the Arizona Coyotes, Vegas Golden Knights, and the Seattle Kraken. The road trip went well with the Wild finishing 2-1-0.
They beat both the Coyotes and the Kraken but couldn’t find a way past the Golden Knights, whom they lost to by one goal. This week featured a new face who stepped up big as well as one who’s been quietly consistent throughout the season. As far as players who struggled, there was one player who took the blame for a bad decision and vowed he would do better.
Wild’s Pitlick & Hartman Take Charge
If Wild fans hadn’t heard of Rem Pitlick before this week, they certainly have by now. He became the first Wild player to record a hat trick in the same game he scored his very first NHL goal, and the 31st player in NHL history to do so. His shot percentage was 100 percent as he scored on all three shots he registered. That wasn’t all the scoring he took part in during last week either, he assisted on Dmitry Kulikov’s first goal of the season in their win over the Arizona Coyotes. He also wasn’t the only player to get a form of a hat trick in their last game.
Pitlick’s linemate Ryan Hartman kept up his quiet consistency and joined in on the fun by setting up all three of Pitlick’s goals. He tallied a hat trick in assists, and again, like Pitlick he also scored at a different time during the week. He recorded the Wild’s second goal against the Golden Knights when they tried to mount a comeback but ran out of time. Both Pitlick and Hartman led the team with four points each, in their three games played and were the players that stepped up the most.
On a side note, in the first Wild Check-In, it was mentioned that Kirill Kaprizov needed to work on his defensive play. This last week, he did improve as he used his speed to catch up with opposing players and backchecked better than his previous attempts.
Wild’s Dumba Takes Responsibility
The player for the Wild who struggled the most this past week was defenseman Matt Dumba. He had a few slip-ups on the defensive side of his game and it cost the Wild. He stepped up however and showed he earned the “A” on his jersey when he admitted he made a mistake and would improve the next game. His offensive abilities did nearly make up for his mistakes on defense but they can’t keep happening.
One player who did well but also needs to improve is Kevin Fiala. He’s been improving by finding a little of his scoring stride as of late but he isn’t playing to his full potential yet. However, the area he needs to fix are his turnovers. Obviously, as a forward of his caliber, it’s going to happen, but once a game is a bit much. He’s not doing a horrible job but he needs to tighten up his puck work a bit, so it doesn’t continue.
To throw in another little side note, Joel Eriksson Ek had a little trouble with his faceoff percentage this last week. In 57 faceoff opportunities, he had a 38.6 faceoff percentage. For the season overall, he’s doing okay but he can’t let this stat slide lower week by week or the Wild will be in deep trouble as winning faceoffs is key to controlling the play.
Wild Look Ahead
Fortunately for the Wild, they didn’t have many players take a step in the wrong direction. There are some areas of improvement as there always will be. Once again when it comes to their goaltending, Cam Talbot could have been included on this list because he continued to play out of his mind. Speaking of goaltenders, Talbot was also able to get a night in relief as backup Kaapo Kahkonen got his third start of the season and second straight win.
This coming week the Wild will be back at home for two games, one against the San Jose Sharks and one against the Dallas Stars before they head out on the road again for another back-to-back. In this set of consecutive games, they’ll be spending time in the state of Florida where they’ll take on two of the tougher teams in the NHL. Both the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning have had strong seasons and the Wild will have to be ready for them as well as the Sharks and Stars. The Wild have yet to play any of these teams so far this season and it will be another test of their abilities.
Mariah Holland is a contributing Minnesota Wild writer for THW. She’s been covering the Wild at THW since October of 2020 and specializes in game takeaways and weekly check-ins. She is always looking for different angles to cover the Wild and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team to help fans connect on a more personal level and to keep an eye on the latest follow her on Twitter @MariahEStark.