Wild Check-In: Zuccarello, Shaw, Spurgeon, Steel & Eriksson Ek

The second week of March for the Minnesota Wild did not go as well as the first. They played four games with two regulation wins, one overtime loss, and one shootout loss. They took on the Calgary Flames at home and then went on the road to take on the Winnipeg Jets, San Jose Sharks, and finally the Arizona Coyotes. Their shootout loss came against the Flames while their two wins were against the Jets and Sharks, and lastly, their overtime loss ended the week against the Coyotes.

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The Wild’s offense took a blow this past week when their star forward Kirill Kaprizov was injured and will be out for three to four weeks. However, some of their offense was able to step up in his absence while others struggled to find their way after having prior success.

Wild’s Offense Comes From Everywhere

It wasn’t surprising that the first player to step up offensively was Kaprizov’s linemate Mats Zuccarello. He recorded two goals and two assists for four points and was the team’s leader over the last four games. While Karpizov and Zuccarello make a great pair, without Kaprizov in the lineup it gave Zuccarello a chance to get out of the “constant passing to Kaprizov” mode and play more selfishly. It paid off and hopefully, he can continue this point streak and employ a shoot-first mentality more often.

Mats Zuccarello Minnesota Wild
Mats Zuccarello, Minnesota Wild (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

There were several players who followed closely behind Zuccarello with three points each and the first player who deserves a mention is Mason Shaw. He’s had an up-and-down season but in this most recent stint, he’s been really strong. With his aggressive style of play, he was able to record a goal and two assists. Apart from his offense, he’s also one of the Wild’s best penalty killers and he had some chances shorthanded as well.

Speaking of the penalty kill, the final name on the successful list is Jared Spurgeon. He, along with several of his defensive linemates tallied three points each but Spurgeon was the only one with a goal. It came in their win over the Sharks and so did one of his assists for his sixth multi-point game of the season. Losing Kaprizov is a huge hit to a team that has struggled offensively, and they will need these players to keep up their offense to get through his injury.

Wild’s Short List of Struggles

The list of players who didn’t have the greatest week is much shorter than those who were successful. The first player who had a rough week was Sam Steel who’s been on this list numerous times before. He was brought into the lineup when Kaprizov and Brandon Duhaime were injured but he hasn’t been able to add anything offensively. He was on a roll in the middle of the season but hasn’t been able to replicate it since and he’ll need to do so soon if he wants to stay in the lineup.

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Joel Eriksson Ek was the next player who didn’t have a great week and it’s kind of surprising as he’s been scoring sporadically this season until this past week. Out of the four games, he wasn’t able to register a single point but he did put up eight hits and two blocked shots. Eriksson Ek may have had trouble offensively but he can always be counted on for his defensive skills.

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

Matt Dumba survived the trade deadline but he hasn’t found a way out of his offensive problems yet. He has dealt with injury issues but he’s been back in the lineup for quite some time now and can’t seem to get out of his scoring funk. His main job is defense and he’s been doing decently there but he’s also been known for his scoring success in the past and the Wild can use every ounce of offense they can get.

Wild’s Week Ahead

The Wild will play three games this upcoming week with their first game on the road against the St. Louis Blues and then at home for another back-to-back, this time against the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals. This will be a tough week as the Blues always play the Wild hard, the Bruins are the best team in the NHL right now and the Capitals have some strong scorers.

The Wild’s defense has to put up some of their best play this week as they try to hold off Jordan Kyrou, Pavel Buchnevich, Robert Thomas, David Pastrňák, Brad Marchand, David Krejčí, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dylan Strome, and possibly Alex Ovechkin if he’s back from his lower-body injury by that time. The offense will also be tested as they try to find ways past either Jordan Binnington or Thomas Greiss, Linus Ullmark or Jeremy Swayman, and finally former Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

Related: Wild’s 4th Line Shines in Overtime Loss to Coyotes

This coming week will show what the Wild are truly made of as they take on some very difficult teams and they’ll have to do it without their star player. Everyone is going to have to step up because they need every win they can get in this tight playoff race.