The Minnesota Wild were looking to wrap up their quick two-game road trip with a 2-0 record when they took on the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday, March 23. They didn’t get off to a great start when the Flyers scored the first goal of the game, but the Wild answered back a few minutes later to tie things up at one and that’s how the period ended. The second started the same way, as the Flyers jumped early to grab the lead back and the Wild responded not just once, but twice.
It looked like the period was going to stay one-sided for the Wild but the Flyers snuck one in right before the period ended to tie things up at three. The third period flipped with the Wild getting the first goal to take the 4-3 lead but not to be outdone, the Flyers answered one more time to knot things up at four.
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Overtime was required and when that wasn’t enough, a shootout was needed where the Wild fell 5-4. It clearly wasn’t their greatest performance and there was an odd vibe that seemed to follow them all game.
Wild’s Continued Power Play Struggle
The Wild’s power play has shown a lot of strength throughout the season, but right now it’s struggling. They’ve scored five power-play goals over a span of three games while Kirill Kaprizov has been out, but in the past three games, they’ve been stonewalled. Despite having seven opportunities they couldn’t convert on any of them.
It was obvious their power play would struggle without Kaprizov but they still have Joel Eriksson Ek and their new addition John Klingberg who’s shown he’s capable of running the power play. They didn’t have Klingberg against the Flyers but they still had Eriksson Ek. Unfortunately, he didn’t record any points on the power play but he did assist on two of the Wild’s even-strength goals. Hopefully, they can get their power play back on track especially since it’s not the only thing that’s struggling.
On a slight side note, the Wild’s penalty kill has also been having trouble as of late with the exception of their game against the New Jersey Devils where everything went right other than the power play. If the Wild can fix their special teams, they’ll get back on the winning track sooner rather than later.
Wild’s Defense Has Off Night
The Wild have been able to win their many one-goal games by playing tight defense and not allowing many shots through. Despite having all their main defensemen playing with the exception of Klingberg, the Wild couldn’t get a rhythm going against the Flyers. The first goal of the game was a breakdown by one of their most successful defensive pairings of Jacob Middleton and Jared Spurgeon, as they allowed the Flyers forwards to skate right through them.
While they did find ways to score goals, they had an incredibly hard time preventing them. It seemed like every time the Wild would score to tie things up, the Flyers answered right back. Some of the blame can be put on Marc-André Fleury but his defense didn’t step up in front of him until late in the game. The Flyers were able to skate right past the Wild’s defense and were allowed to set up camp right in front of the net.
The Wild’s defensemen slacked on pushing the Flyer forwards out of the slot and it ended up costing them. They have to fix these defensive issues or they will find themselves behind in each game they play going forward.
Wild’s Boldy Can’t Be Stopped
Despite the loss, the Wild had some good things go their way and the main one was Matt Boldy. He’s been busy scoring goals since Kaprizov was injured and he hasn’t been stopped yet. That included against the Flyers where he scored two goals and one of them was a no-look, between-the-legs backhand that not many players can pull off.
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Boldy has proven he can be a scoring machine at the time when they need it most. His linemates, Marcus Johansson and Eriksson Ek, also rose to the occasion and played at his level to create chances. Ryan Reaves and Brandon Duhaime didn’t continue their scoring streaks but two other players stepped up instead. Marcus Foligno and another new addition, Oskar Sundqvist both scored goals to get their team back into the game.
The Wild will need other players throughout their lineup to continue stepping up and scoring goals like this if they want to win games. Hopefully, they can keep their offense going when Kaprizov returns and they’ll be almost unstoppable at scoring goals.
Wild’s Next Opponent
The Wild will have a couple of days off before they take on the Chicago Blackhawks at home on Saturday, March 23. It’ll be an early evening game and while the Blackhawks are a struggling team with more losses than wins, they did recently beat the Boston Bruins. The Wild will need to take them seriously and play hard.
The Wild’s defense will have a chance to fix their issues and make sure players like Taylor Raddysh, Seth Jones, Andreas Athanasiou, and Tyler Johnson aren’t allowed to get any shots on net. Their offense will also get the opportunity to show they can keep their scoring going but they’ll have to get by former Wild goaltenders Alex Stalock or Anton Khudobin.
This will be a perfect test for the Wild to fix their defense or tweak things if need be and also for other members of their offense to step up prior to playoffs. They’re currently in sole possession of second place in the Central Division but are only one point out of first. If they can get back on the winning track they will have a chance to steal first place away from the Dallas Stars.