Welcome to this week’s installment of Wild Weekly. The go-to location for weekly recaps of everything you need to know about the Minnesota Wild!
The Wild had one of their toughest stretches of the season this past week with four games in six days including a back-to-back series with the Colorado Avalanche. The week started out rough with a split against the Los Angeles Kings including a rather brutal 5-3 win when Wild forward Kevin Fiala lay a hit that earned him a three-game suspension.
They finished out the week with another split. This one against the Avalanche, who laid it to the Wild in their first game in a 5-1 win. In the second game, the Wild came back and won in overtime 4-3, and several Wild players had a standout game.
They also wore their reverse retro jerseys for the first time this season, which seemed to bring them luck as they won the game.
Takeaways, Notes, & Concerns
Here are all the important notes about the week that was.
At the very beginning of the season, the Wild turned to Rask as one of their step-up players. He struggled a bit to get going. However, he may have found his scoring stride after the Wild’s overtime win against the Avalanche when he had two back-to-back goals.
He has three points in the Wild’s first ten games, but he’s played with a few different players to show that he is a versatile player and can go where he is most needed, which will come in handy down the road when players move in and out of the roster.
Joel Eriksson Ek
It’s no surprise that Eriksson Ek is near the top of the Wild’s scoring so far. He has five goals and four assists, playing at nearly a point-per-game pace. He’s also a shocking plus-8, tied for the team lead with his linemate Jordan Greenway.
He’s been all over the puck this season, and he’s more than halfway to his goal total from last season. If he keeps it up, he could be on pace for over 20 goals, which would be a career-high.
No one is surprised to see Kaprizov’s name on the scoresheet. In the team’s overtime win against the Avalanche, he helped set up Rask for the game-tying goal that switched the momentum in the Wild’s favor. He’s now third on the team with eight points, just two behind leader Greenway.
He creates opportunities around the net, especially on the power play where he cycles the puck around. When he gets going, he can create openings for other players to take a shot and has the ability to score goals and set up plays.
Greenway has upped his game from seasons past. He leads the team in both points with 10 and assists with eight. He’s finally using his size to his advantage and knocking opponents off the puck as well as forcing his way in front of the net.
He’s up to three multi-point games this season, and the way he’s playing, he’ll have many more. He and his linemate, Eriksson Ek have are the top-two scorers on the Wild, and they are just heating up.
The Wild’s power play is slowly getting better, but they are still stuck in last place with a 5.1% success rate. On the other hand, their penalty kill has been doing quite well, despite how many penalties the team has taken lately. Their penalty kill ranks sixth in the league with an 85.4% success rate.
The Wild took way too many penalties last week, with 11 penalties in their split against the Kings, and in their first two games against the Avalanche, they took 10, including six in just one game.
Standings Tracker and Injury Update
When the Sunday games wrapped up, the Wild were in third in the Honda West Division with a record of 6-4, one point ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights and one point behind both the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche.
The Wild were down three players going into the second game of their back-to-back against the Avalanche. They lost both Marcus Johansson and Matt Dumba to injury and Marcus Foligno, who was placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. It is unknown how long the three will be out for.
With those three out, the Wild called up three new names. Gerry Mayhew, Kyle Rau and Luke Johnson all made their season debuts for the Wild on Sunday night. It looks like they’ll be in the lineup for some time with no timetable for the injured players to return.
The Wild will be looking at another two games against the Avalanche on the road, and then they’ll travel back home to face the Arizona Coyotes for two. They’ll need both Greenway and Rask to continue their scoring pace when they travel to Colorado, as the Avs will be looking to redeem their overtime loss. They’ll also see the Coyotes for the first time this season.
Mariah Stark (Holland) is a contributing Minnesota Wild writer for THW. She’s been covering the Wild at THW since October of 2020 and specializes in game takeaways and weekly check-ins. She is always looking for different angles to cover the Wild and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team to help fans connect on a more personal level and to keep an eye on the latest follow her on Twitter @MariahEStark.