Top 4 Games Wild Fans Should Circle on 2022-23 Schedule

Wednesday was an exciting day for Minnesota Wild fans everywhere as their team, along with the other 31 clubs, released their full 2022-23 NHL season schedules. The action begins for the Wild on Thursday, Oct. 13 when they play host to the 2021-22 Eastern Conference Champions, the New York Rangers. Not only should that be an exciting game, but it’ll also be a good test to see if Minnesota can hang with the other contenders of the league.

Having said that, there are certainly some 2022-23 Wild games that stick out above the rest. With 82 contests to enjoy beginning this fall, here’s a look at the top four Wild games to look forward to next season.

1. Wild @ St. Louis Blues, Dec. 31

Fans had high expectations for the Wild after being a top-10 team during the 2021-22 NHL season. Unfortunately, any aspirations for a deep playoff run were crushed in a first-round postseason matchup against the St. Louis Blues. Despite opening up the series with a 2-1 lead, the Wild just couldn’t close things out, as the Blues rattled off three straight victories, outscoring their Central Division rivals 15-5 over that span, eliminating Minnesota in the process.

Jordan Binnington St. Louis Blues Joel Eriksson Ek Minnesota Wild
Wild fans are still feeling disappointed following their team’s first-round playoff exit against the Blues. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

The good news is Wild fans won’t have to wait too long to see their team try to get some revenge against the Blues, as Minnesota will host St. Louis for a New Year’s Eve clash on Saturday, Dec. 31. It’s the first of four meetings between the two and considering how the Wild went 0-2-1 against them last regular season, it’s easy to see why a victory here is crucial for Dean Evason‘s squad. Throw in the fact that the Wild are 4-11-5 in their last 20 games against the Blues, further adding to the fact that they need to find a way to turn this rivalry’s momentum around.

2. Wild vs. Los Angeles Kings, Oct. 15

The current NHL offseason is relatively young, but one story that was at the forefront for Wild fans was the Kevin Fiala situation. The offensively-talented winger was a pending restricted free agent (RFA) and needed to be moved due to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter’s dead money providing the Wild with little cap relief, resulting in Fiala being traded to the Los Angeles Kings for a 2022 first-round pick (No. 19) and defensive prospect Brock Faber.

Kevin Fiala Minnesota Wild
The Wild won’t have to wait too long to face Fiala and the Kings. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Wild won’t have too much time before they run into their former star this fall, as Fiala and the Kings will make the trip to the Xcel Energy Center for Minnesota’s second game of the season on Saturday, Oct. 15. The 25-year-old Swiss sniper is coming off a campaign that saw him record a career-high 33 goals and 52 assists, but it remains to be seen if that performance was a product of his talents or simply being in the Wild’s system.

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Needless to say, all eyes will be on Fiala to live up to his offseason hype and the seven-year, $55.125 million contract he signed with the Kings. The Wild must figure out a way to shut him down in that second game of the season, proving that they were justified in not paying him the price he was looking for. The good news is, that they have a decent chance to win the early 2022-23 matchup as they went 2-1 against the Kings last season. They also have won eight of the last 11 matchups between the two clubs.

3. Wild @ Chicago Blackhawks, Oct. 30

Many of the Wild’s most intriguing 2022-23 matchups happen early on in the season, including a date with the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, Oct. 30. Although the Wild and Blackhawks have had their fair share of intense battles over the years, this will be one of the more unique games that they’ve experienced. Rather than taking place on the Blackhawks’ home ice at the United Center, The Athletic‘s Michael Russo confirmed on Wednesday that this game will be taking place at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It’ll be the first NHL game played in the city since the early 1990s.

Neutral site games are always a thrill just because of the change in atmosphere. Not only does it mean that fans of another city have a chance to watch NHL action, but it’s also a game that’ll surely draw more television viewers than usual, giving the Wild a bigger audience to impress. Despite their success last regular season, they aren’t talked about enough by the media as they should be and a special attraction game at Fiserv Forum — resulting in a win over the Blackhawks — can fix that.

4. Wild @ Colorado Avalanche, March 29

Any matchup against the defending Stanley Cup champions is worth circling and that’s the case for when the Wild visit the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, March 29. This won’t be the first matchup of the year between the Central Division foes, however, it will be the only one that takes place at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado. What’s significant about that fact is that the Wild haven’t fared well against the Avalanche on the road in quite some time.

Pavel Francouz Colorado Avalanche 2022 Stanley Cup
Pavel Francouzof the Colorado Avalanche lifts the Stanley Cup after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game Six of the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Final (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Wild have been dreadful in their last 12 trips to Ball Arena, going 3-8-1 over that span. What’s even worse is that Colorado has outscored Minnesota by a total of 50-29 in those games, winning six times by at least a three-goal deficit. If that wasn’t bad enough on its own, the Wild have lost four straight matchups in Denver, with their sole road victory over the last two seasons coming on Feb. 24, 2021.

Related: Wild Have 3 Internal Options to Replace Kevin Fiala in the Lineup

Defeating the Avalanche is always a tough task for any team, but the Wild are fortunate that they have some momentum on their side. Although the victories didn’t come on the road, they have won two straight games against the Avalanche, which is a lot better than most teams can say. Now, it’s time for Minnesota to figure out how to have that same level of success away from the Xcel Energy Center.

At the end of the day, these are just four of the top 2022-23 NHL season games that Wild fans should be anticipating. Each matchup gives the Wild a different reason to try for a victory, offering the type of experience and lessons that can help strengthen the club. Even though there are 78 other games that the organization would love to win, the four aforementioned games are ones that Wild fans should do everything in their power not to miss.

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