This will be a weekly article that will quickly highlight one or two players who have stepped up for the Minnesota Wild during games in the week prior. There will also be mention of one or two players who have been deemed in need of stepping up or who have struggled during the week’s games.
This first week will be based on the games against the Ottawa Senators at home and games on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders. The Wild went undefeated in those three games after making some strong comebacks, and they had a couple of players step up and a couple of players who have some issues to work on.
Wild’s Spurgeon and Foligno Stepped Up
A player who is known more for his defense than his offense is captain Jared Spurgeon. He made this list because of how he stepped up the offensive side of his game in the last week. He’s scored a total of five points this season with three of them coming this week alone. His defensive stats were a little lower than normal but the points he scored made up for it. Spurgeon’s name came up first on this list but the player that came second is also a captain.
His name has been mentioned a lot this season and that’s because he’s been an all-around player and doing so very well. This week was no different for the player the team likes to call “Moose”. He was all over the ice whether it be trying to score a goal or land a big hit; regardless, Foligno was there. He’s always been a valued player to the Wild, but this season, he’s taken a step and proved he earned the “A” on his jersey.
The Wild have had a number of players step up in their wins this week, but Spurgeon and Foligno were really a step above the rest. They both took their leadership roles to the next level and set great examples for the younger players on the team. While these players took a step up, there are also a few who need to step up.
Wild’s Rask and Kaprizov Need to Step Up
His name is mentioned fairly often when it comes to players who should be traded, and that player is Victor Rask. He used to do alright when he was paired with Kirill Kaprizov but for some reason, this season, he is really struggling to mount anything offensively. He’s also already been scratched for a few games this season and that’s typically not a good thing. In just seven games played, he’s scored one point. He hasn’t stepped up to the caliber many expected of him, and if he can’t do that soon, he may end up missing out on more games while the younger players fill the void.
Hearing this next name may raise some questions but just because he’s great offensively, doesn’t mean there are some aspects of his game that can improve. Kaprizov can score goals and set them up, but lately, his defensive tactics need a little help. The other night, in their game against the Islanders, there was a breakaway but Kaprizov slacked on his backcheck. Thankfully, his defense got back in time to stop a goal.
As far as Rask is concerned, he’ll need to step up and do it quickly to save his spot in the lineup. Kaprizov’s goal-scoring abilities more than make up for his lack of defense. Another good thing is it doesn’t tend to happen too often, however, he’ll want to fix that going forward so he can help his defense, especially when they’ve been out there for a while and are tired.
Wild’s Upcoming Week
This coming week, the Wild are on the road again. This time, they’ll be on the west coast to face the Arizona Coyotes, Vegas Golden Knights, and the Seattle Kraken. It’ll be interesting to see what players make this list next, especially with Mats Zuccarello and Rem Pitlick back from the COVID protocol. Some players will have to step up big to earn their spots and of course some will end up taking a step back.
With these games on the west coast, it also means some late nights for Wild fans who want to stay up and watch the games live. On another note, the Wild will also be facing another back-to-back, something they’ve actually done fairly well with so far in this season. Hopefully, more players step up and the Wild will continue their winning ways.
Mariah Holland is a contributing Minnesota Wild writer for THW as well as a cohost on the THW Youtube show Chicks & Sticks which produces a new show every Friday. She’s been covering the Wild at THW for just over eight months and has been on Chicks & Sticks since it started in early May. She is always looking for different angles to cover the Wild and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team.