Welcome to this week’s installment of Minnesota Wild Weekly, which will take a look at the past week of Wild hockey. It will include notes, the biggest takeaways, and, of course, the review of the week.
Week in Review
This was a week of extreme highs and extreme lows for the Wild. They went 1-3 during the week, including a massive 8-3 victory over the powerhouse Colorado Avalanche, and an embarrassing 9-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues. In the other two games this week, despite losing, it was close throughout, losing 5-4 in one game and 3-2 in overtime in another. Some players shined while others had a week they would like to forget, so let’s take a look at some major topics from the previous week.
Takeaways, Notes & Concerns
Fiala had himself a game on Wednesday during the team’s 8-3 victory over the Avalanche. He registered a hat trick and an assist for four points; two of the goals came on the power play. It was his first career hat trick.
He was all over the puck, looking confident and making great plays with his elite skating ability. It was the seventh straight game with at least one point for Fiala — a streak that ended the next game against the Blues. What’s most concerning, though, is that he didn’t play Saturday night due to an upper-body injury. He skated in warmups to test if he could play, but decided he wasn’t good enough to go.
Kähkönen had the worst game of his young career on Friday night as he was in net for all nine goals against the Blues. It’s fair to say that this might be the first big mental challenge for him in his young career.
He has watched as Cam Talbot has excelled in the starter’s role during the past couple of weeks and now looks to be struggling to find the level of play he had during the early parts of the season. It will be interesting to see how he battles back in his next start, whenever that is.
Power Play Heating Up
The Achilles heel of this team at the beginning of the season has seemed to have figured it out, as the power play has been great of late. (from ‘Wild get boost from power play in 2-1 win over Golden Knights,’ Twin Cities Pioneer Press, 04/03/2021) The Wild have scored on 11 of their last 32 power plays, good for 34 percent in that time frame. Their most offensive power-play threats, Kirill Kaprizov and Fiala, have been really hot as of late; with it goes the team’s power play.
Special teams will be crucial come playoff time, so it’s great to see the Wild are starting to find what works for them with the man-advantage.
Standings Tracker and Injury Update
The Wild currently sit in third place in the Honda West Division standings. The Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights currently sit first and second, respectively, and they will be challenging to overtake. The Wild are seven points up on the Blues for third with a game in hand, and are eight points up on the fifth-place Arizona Coyotes with two games in hand.
As previously mentioned, Fiala did not play Saturday night due to an upper-body injury. He will be re-evaluated to see just how long he will be out. Marcus Foligno continues to be out with a lower-body injury, while Nick Bjugstad has missed the past three games with an upper-body injury.
After such an up and down week, it will be interesting to see how the Wild rebound in the coming week. The Wild start a four-game homestand on Monday against the Blues, then have the Coyotes in town on Wednesday, followed by a back-to-back against the San Jose Sharks starting Friday.
The NHL trade deadline is on Monday, and it will be interesting to see if the Wild make any changes to the roster. Bill Guerin had said he would explore the market, but there is no need to sell the farm at this time for NHL-ready players.
Sports writer covering the Minnesota Wild. Currently studying for a degree in sport media.