Minnesota Wild Roundtable: New Years Edition

With the Christmas holiday behind us, everyone is now focused on the New Year and all the big plans that follow. The Minnesota Wild have one game left in 2022 and they’ll be looking to head into 2023 on a high note with a win. With the New Year comes the famous New Year’s Resolutions and our Wild crew at The Hockey Writers figured out what the team’s resolutions should be. Tyson Mckay, C.G. Jones, and Mariah Stark broke down all the resolution questions related to the Wild and even answered their own resolutions.

What Should be the Top Resolution for the Wild as a Team and Why?

Tyson: The resolution the Wild need to stick to in 2023 is to take fewer penalties. The penalty kill has not been horrible, especially with Connor Dewar being a shorthanded goal monster, but they just see too much action. Out of all the teams currently in a playoff position, the Wild have 80 more penalty minutes than the team in second. Aside from the obvious advantage for the other team, taking penalties throws off the line rotations, messes with players’ minutes, and can cause them to lose a game they otherwise should’ve won.

Connor Dewar Minnesota Wild
Connor Dewar, Minnesota Wild (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

C.G.: I think the Wild, as a whole, really need to focus on their defensive play. And I don’t mean certain players in certain situations, but all players in all defensive situations. I’m a big believer in good defense leading to good offense, but the good offense doesn’t necessarily translate into good defense. The back half of the season is only going to get more challenging, and the Wild have to be willing to rise to the occasion on the defensive side of the puck.

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Mariah: I have to agree with Tyson on this one and say something I feel has been a problem all season and that is their penalties. They have to stay more disciplined and out of the penalty box. However, after their game against the Dallas Stars, they also need to shoot more, which will lead to more goals. They should be outshooting every team they play especially with the firepower they have in Kirill Kaprizov, Mats Zuccarello, Matt Boldy, Joel Eriksson Ek, etc. If they can start to throw more shots on goal they’ll have a higher chance of winning.

Kirill Kaprizov is One of the Best Wild Players to Ever Wear the Green & Red, but if You had to Pick a Resolution for Him, What Would it be and Why?

Tyson: It may not be a usual resolution, but Kaprizov needs to be more selfish. Every Wild fan, maybe even every hockey fan, knows about the chemistry between him and Zuccarello, but there is just no question about who has a better shot. There are too many times in the run of a game where Kaprizov and Zuccarello are so busy trying to set each other up it ends up in a turnover. I would like Kaprizov to take those shots, even if it means a drop in point production for his best friend.

C.G.: It’s difficult to come up with a resolution for Kaprizov, but if I had to pick one, I would suggest working Sam Steel into the play. There’s clear chemistry between Kaprizov and Zuccarello, but it seems Steel is still in that supporting role. I’d like to see Kaprizov deliberately bring the centerman into the fold.

Kirill Kaprizov Minnesota Wild
Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Mariah: It may seem silly because Kaprizov is already such a strong player, but there are times when he needs to go back to the basics. It’s great he can make all these fancy plays and it’s certainly exciting to watch, but like Tyson said, Kaprizov needs to shoot more and pass less. He can also back off on the fancy puck work, especially in the neutral zone. A lot of times it leads to turnovers and the Wild can’t keep having those mistakes. It would be nice if Kaprizov could go back to the simple break-out moves and see what happens because he’s such a gifted goal scorer he can make any move work, including the simple ones.

What Resolution Should be on the Wild’s Coaching Staff’s List?

Tyson: I think for the coaches it has to be getting the players better at faceoffs. Yes, it is on the players as well, but they have been consistently poor on the dot and obviously could use some guided practices and video sessions on how they can improve. The Wild are not known for their center depth, but if you can’t win a defensive zone faceoff on a penalty kill you are in for a long night.

C.G.: The coaching staff just needs to continue doing what they’re doing. The Wild got off to a slow start this season, but they’ve really turned a corner in the past two months. I think the coaching staff has to be emphasizing the fact that special teams win games. The Wild have to make a concerted effort to stay out of the penalty box as much as possible.

Dean Evason Minnesota Wild
Dean Evason, head coach of the Minnesota Wild (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Mariah: I think the coaching staff has to show more faith in Filip Gustavsson. I know Marc-André Fleury is their go-to starting goaltender, but Gustavsson has proven he is capable of time in the net as well. He still has some problems from time to time, but the Wild should consider rotating them more and see how things go.

Finally, Do You Partake in Resolutions, if so, What’s at the Top of Your List?

Tyson: I am not usually one to make a resolution for myself, but this year I’m going for it. I was always a heavy reader growing up and just have not been able to read much in the last few years. I’d like to change that and get back into some good books, so if anyone has any suggestions on must-reads I am up for some suggestions. Happy New Year!

C.G.:  I don’t usually take part in resolutions, because when I have, I’ve failed miserably… However, this year may be different. I’d really like to try and read 50 books this year. My second novel is set to be published in June, and I’ve almost neglected reading in preparation for my own book. So, here’s to a year of productive reading! 

Related: Minnesota Wild Roundtable: Christmas Edition 2022

Mariah: No, I don’t do resolutions. To be honest I don’t find them helpful. Personally, I try to set goals for myself every day, things that are attainable. During this time of year, however, it does remind me of my number one goal for myself and that is to always find ways to improve myself and be a better person. Life is hard enough and resolutions are stressful but for those that love them, good for you! I hope they work out and I also hope everyone has a great and safe new year!

Wild’s New Year

The Wild need to start the New Year out right with a win but to do that they’ll have to get past the St. Louis Blues, the same team that beat them last season in the Winter Classic at the same time of year. These two teams always play each other hard and it’s going to be an interesting matchup that, hopefully, the Wild can come out on top in.

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