The Minnesota Wild had a rough night in more ways than one in their loss to the Dallas Stars and former Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. This loss was the only game the Wild will be playing this week as the NHL takes a pause from activities with all of the COVID issues going on in the league. Their next game will hopefully be next Monday against the Winnipeg Jets, as of now, the game is still on as planned. That means the Wild will have six days without a game played and four days without skating.
The Wild were already shorthanded going into this game, as their captain and one of their defensive leaders, Jared Spurgeon, and forward Jordan Greenway were both injured in their last game against the Buffalo Sabres. As last night’s game went on, they would lose another very valuable player, and it’s unknown for how long he’ll be out.
Wild’s Rough Night Part One: Remaining Disciplined
The Wild have struggled with their inability to stay disciplined as of late. They get angry quickly and retaliate on things they shouldn’t. Or throwing the puck over the glass three times in two games when they know it’s a penalty. It’s hard to tell if it’s jitters or just forgetting what they were doing. Regardless, they need to buckle down and stay out of the penalty box. Of course, not all of their penalties have been this way, but it’s started to become more of a problem.
Another area they need to be more disciplined in is their shots on the net. Again, as of recent, their shots on the net have taken a hit. They haven’t tallied 40 or more shots on net in over six games. In this last game against the Stars, they registered 23 shots on net. That’s the second smallest shot total they’ve had this season since being held to 22 against the Seattle Kraken. The slightly good news about the low shot total is they still scored four goals on those 23 shots.
Wild’s Rough Night Part Two: Special Teams
There was a lot of physicality between the Stars and the Wild throughout the game. One hit that resulted in an awkward fall into the boards by Joel Eriksson Ek knocked him out of the game. He left with an upper-body injury with no timetable for return as of last night. The Wild’s other defensive leader, Jonas Brodin, was a recipient of another hit, this one from behind that sent him flying into the boards. Thankfully, Brodin seemed no worse for the wear and stayed in the game apparently uninjured.
That physicality also boiled down to more penalties than the Wild should’ve taken, with one name in particular that comes to mind. Ryan Hartman was called for two separate penalties at the same time, he was called for a cross-check as well as hold in the same play. Luckily for him and the Wild, no shorthanded goals came from that four-minute penalty, but they were both unnecessary and not very disciplined. That doesn’t mean the Wild got off easy, however, they gave up one goal on the penalty kill and one on their own power play. The news wasn’t all bad, the Wild were able to tally a power-play goal themselves. The even better news was that Kevin Fiala scored it. He’s struggled for goals all season, but he was able to sneak a goal by on the power play.
Wild Don’t Give Up
The Wild tried to continue their comeback three times throughout the game. Once in each period, but it wasn’t enough as the Stars racked up seven goals to secure the win. The Stars got their revenge from their previous 7-2 loss to the Wild in their first meetup of the year. If there’s one main thing the Wild can take from this game was the level of fight they had. Even when the Stars scored their seventh goal, the Wild still pushed hard. They refused to give in, which got them within a goal several times throughout the night. As the season wears on, the Wild need to keep that spirit going. Things will get tough, especially with three of their key players in Greenway, Spurgeon, and now Eriksson Ek out for a length of time.
Future of the Wild’s Season
Following their loss, the Wild will be able to head home and start their holiday break a few days earlier than planned. As of now, they’ll be able to return to the arena the day before their scheduled game against the Winnipeg Jets, with the season resuming the day of that game which is Monday, Dec. 27. Going into a break like this on a losing streak will undoubtedly be in the players’ heads, but they’ll have to find a way past that. With the extra days off, the Wild will have time to regroup and come back with hopefully a fresh perspective on the things that need to be fixed and start things off with a win before the Winter Classic.
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Mariah Stark (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.