The Minnesota Wild played just three games in the past week and came out with two wins and a loss. There was also some drama that happened early in the week that resulted in a two-game suspension for an opposing goaltender. The Wild’s wins came against the St. Louis Blues and the Washington Capitals while their first loss in regulation since the middle of February came against the NHL’s best, the Boston Bruins.
Their victory over the Blues was a come-from-behind win that ended with the Wild on top 8-5 but not before goaltender Jordan Binnington got upset with some incidental contact by Ryan Hartman. That resulted in Marc-André Fleury racing down to try and fight Binnington but the referees broke it up. Binnington received a two-game suspension for hitting Hartman in the face with his blocker and luckily that was the worst of the drama.
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They did get Brandon Duhaime and Jonas Brodin back from injury plus Jake Middleton back from illness and that gave the team a big boost. There were several other players who found their offensive game this past week and also some players who could use a jumpstart.
Wild’s Boldy Boosts Offense
Another week has passed and with Kirill Kaprizov still out of the lineup, some other members of the Wild’s offense stepped up in his place. First up was Matt Boldy, who charged to the front of the stats sheet with six points in three games. He had three assists throughout the week and then a hat trick to finish it off and carry his team past the Capitals.
Boldy has made contributions on and off all season but with Kaprizov out he has managed to work his way up the chart and if he continues his scoring, he may catch Kaprizov before the season ends. Next in line was a player who flipped his stats from the last Check-In where he was struggling and that was Joel Eriksson Ek. He played in all three games and scored one goal plus four assists for five points.
While Eriksson Ek boosted his offense this week, his defensive game slacked a bit. He had zero blocked shots and three turnovers but he did contribute physically with six hits. He wasn’t the only one on the team with five points, newcomer Marcus Johansson also scored a goal and four assists for five points.
Johansson’s fast and skilled skating was immediately noticed when he joined the lineup and now he’s been able to prove his scoring skills as well. Prior to the trade deadline, all three of these players were on different lines and even different teams. Now they are all on the same line and stepping up in big ways to help their team.
Wild’s Defense in an Offensive Slump
The Wild’s offense has found its path to success but the defensemen known for producing offensively have struggled. The first on the list is Calen Addison. He has been out of the lineup for a while but he also hasn’t been able to find his way back to his play from the start of the season. He’s no longer on the main power-play unit and he didn’t have any shots on goal in the two games he played this past week.
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Matt Dumba was the next defenseman to make the list and he’s been struggling off and on all season. He recorded zero points and also just one blocked shot despite playing in all three games. He did have three shots on goal but couldn’t convert; however, he did have four hits that included one on Evgeny Kuznetsov that resulted in him fighting T.J. Oshie.
The final player to make the struggling list was Jon Merrill who played in the first two games of the week but was scratched against the Capitals after some costly mistakes and not playing to his full potential. He like the two before him didn’t register any points but he did record two blocked shots and a takeaway. Hopefully, when he’s brought back into the lineup he can fix his game and provide strong defense as well as some offense.
Wild’s Week Ahead
The Wild will play three more games this upcoming week with a quick two-game road trip out east to take on the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers and then back home for a late afternoon matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Wild are in a tight playoff race at the moment and they’ll need every possible point they can get this week.
To do that the Wild will have to keep Timo Meier, Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Travis Konecny, Kevin Hayes, Owen Tippett, Taylor Raddysh, Seth Jones, and Andreas Athanasiou at bay. Their offense will have to step up another level and find ways past Akira Schmid or Vítek Vaněček, Carter Hart or Felix Sandström, and Alex Stalock or possibly Petr Mrázek.
The Wild’s offense has been full steam ahead and they’ll have to keep it that way if they plan to finish out this week with more wins. They’ll also need several of their defensemen to step up and fix both their defensive game plus start to contribute on the offensive side as well. This coming week will go smoothly if the Wild can do those things.