The Minnesota Wild have been fortunate enough not to face a lot of injuries this season. Yet, they continued their elite play at 5-on-5 with Marcus Johansson sidelined. That injury had a minimal impact; however, the same can’t be said about the Marcus Foligno injury, and Kevin Fiala returned after missing one game, which is positive.
It’s critical that the Wild’s injury report remains short, especially for a team relies so heavilty on their depth.
Foligno Returns & The Impact of His Injury
After being sidelined for 15 games due to a broken ankle from a Jonas Brodin shot, Foligno will play in Wednesday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes. This is a significant return and will hopefully give the Wild some much-needed energy after struggling the past few weeks.
If there was any hesitation about giving the 29-year-old a three-year extension, the Wild’s play since his injury should put that to rest.
While one player can’t completely change their team’s play, the above graph shows an interesting coincidence: the Wild’s expected goals dropped during Foligno’s missed games as an indication that his injury did have a significant impact on the team.
Foligno was off to a career year before his injury. He has registered seven goals and 16 points in 23 games while averaging just 14 minutes a night. His 2.86 points per hour at 5-on-5 rank seventh among NHL forwards, which is an impressive feat. Foligno’s 3.5 defensive goals above replacement rank second among all forwards and his 1.60 expected goals against per hour rank third.
He has been one of the Wild’s most important forwards this season, and the results of his injury are indicative of the value he provides not just in his two-way game as a defensive stalwart but also his physicality and energy. If he continues to produce at this rate, his fair extension will become a very good deal.
Bjugstad Remains Out
Nick Bjugstad has missed the last three games due to an upper-body injury sustained during a fight with Kyle Burroughs of the Colorado Avalanche on April 5. His timetable for return remains unknown.
According to Michael Russo of The Athletic, he hasn’t started skating yet (from ‘Why the Minnesota Wild were quiet at trade deadline: ‘Our time will come,” The Athletic, 04/12/21). Therefore, he won’t be available for Wednesday’s clash with the Coyotes.
Bjugstad has 15 points (6 goals, 9 assists) in 37 games while averaging just over 12 minutes a game. Hopefully, the injury won’t sideline him for much longer as he is crucial to the team’s thin depth down the middle and has brought stability to the middle-six.
Kevin Fiala will return Wednesday against the Coyotes after missing one game (against the St. Louis Blues) with an upper-body injury that has turned out not to be serious. Luckily, he only missed one game with a minor injury because the Wild have depended on Fiala and Kirill Kaprizov this season.
Fiala has 14 goals and 25 points in 36 games while averaging over 17 minutes per night. He has been integral to the Wild’s success this season.
(All Data Via Evolving-Hockey, Natural Stat Trick & Hockey-Reference)
Aaron Heckmann is a journalism & broadcasting student. He covers the Wild for The Hockey Writers & Zone Coverage’s 10krinks. His data-driven articles are focused on solving problems, telling stories, and discovering unique storylines. Find him on Twitter @aaron_heckmann.