It’s the first week of October and that means it’s one week closer to the official start of the NHL season. This is the first of many Minnesota Wild weekly check-ins that will discuss the team’s previous week of games, players who succeeded and struggled, any injuries that may have occurred, and finally the opponents they’ll face in the next week.
The Wild have completed their first week of preseason games and they are on fire. They’ve played four games and won all four that included beating the defending Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche twice in a row, but keep in mind it’s only preseason and many of the star players were not playing yet.
The Wild followed those wins with two more against the Dallas Stars and Chicago Blackhawks to remain undefeated. A number of prospects displayed their talents while others struggled, but the Wild’s star players have shown they are taking the preseason seriously.
Wild’s Stars Steal the Show
During the preseason, it’s common for the prospects to participate in most of the games for their respective teams while the star players play games here and there until the regular season starts. The same can be said for the Wild, but their stars knew the importance of these games and ended up stealing the show. One of those stars was Kirill Kaprizov who played in their first game and opened the scoring with the first goal of the game and the first of the Wild’s preseason, but that wasn’t all.
Kaprizov went on to add an assist and end the night with two points – plus he shared the ice with Marco Rossi who is the next star on the list. Rossi is currently fighting to earn his roster spot but things are looking pretty good at this point. In three games played, he’s tallied four points; one goal and three assists plus five shots on goal.
Rossi and Kaprizov aren’t the only stars who have scored; Matt Boldy, Tyson Jost, Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, and Mats Zuccarello have all made their presence known this preseason. Even newcomer Sam Steel got in on the action and showed he’s already made himself comfortable in the Wild lineup with a goal and two assists. There’s been plenty of scoring to go around this preseason and hopefully they can continue that streak all season long.
Wild’s Minor Struggles
Preseason is meant for players to get in some practice games and work out any major or minor issues they may have after having the summer off. The Wild haven’t had any major issues with certain players but there have been a couple who’ve struggled to find the scoreboard so far. Those two players make up two-thirds of the “GREEF” line and they are Marcus Foligno and Joel Eriksson Ek.
They’ve both played in two games and haven’t recorded any goals or assists yet, but they did find the penalty box a number of times. The non-scoring isn’t a big worry at this point with the regular season not started yet, but it would be nice for Foligno and Eriksson Ek to get a goal or two to shake off any offseason rust. That was the only issue for individual players, but as a team, they do have one thing to work on.
The Wild need to focus on protecting leads, especially when it comes to the third period. In their first game against the Avalanche, they had a two-goal lead that quickly dissolved and the Wild needed overtime to sneak out with the win. It hasn’t been as big of an issue in the last couple of games but they still have allowed way too many third-period goals in the preseason so far.
Allowing late goals has also been a problematic area for this team in the past and it’s something they need to get ahead of before the regular season. Their defense needs to stand tall through all three periods and help their goaltenders out in every way they can to protect leads.
Wild’s Final Week
The Wild have one more week of preseason games left and they’ll face the St. Louis Blues for the first time this season plus the Blackhawks and Stars, each for the second time. They have already sent quite a few players to their American Hockey League team, the Iowa Wild, and are now focusing on their main roster to get ready for the regular season.
They’ll get one last challenge on the road when they face the Blues, then they’ll head back home for their final two games. They’ll have the chance to hear their hometown crowd and get pumped up for the start of the grueling regular season. These last few games may be a bit tougher for the Wild and they’ll have to play their best as all the teams are in the same boat and will be getting their top players into the lineup to perfect their rosters.
The final countdown is on, as the Wild have just over a week before the regular season starts and they’ll want to soak up every minute they can of the preseason. Wild fans have a lot to look forward to this upcoming season. With the additions of Rossi and Steel, they will have a lot of offensive firepower that will hopefully translate into a lot of wins.
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.