The Minnesota Wild faced the Nashville Predators to start their nine-game homestand on Sunday. It was an emotional evening as the organization retired the first jersey in franchise history. He was the first-ever permanent captain and a beloved figure in the state of Minnesota, Mikko Koivu.
Unfortunately, the Wild weren’t able to pull out a win as the Predators got out to an early lead, and Minnesota was unable to mount a comeback. The Predators got past Kaapo Kahkonen for the first goal of the game, and the Wild continued their trend of scoring right back. In the second, the same thing happened, the Preds jumped onto the board, and the Wild answered back. However, the Preds took the lead to end the second.
When the teams came back in the third, the Wild watched as the Predators added three more goals, two of them empty-netters to take a 6-2 lead and crush the fans who were riding the energy of Koivu’s jersey retirement ceremony. It was the Wild’s second straight loss after falling to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a shootout on Friday, Mar. 11.
Wild’s Boldy Continues Success
Matt Boldy has been a refreshing presence in the lineup since January. Like Kirill Kaprizov, Boldy is fast and can handle the puck better than most. He’s a rookie who plays like a veteran and already has 12 goals in 27 games, including one against the Predators, which tied the game for the Wild and gave them renewed momentum.
That goal was his 24th point of the season; he’s averaging almost a point per game and, as of Sunday evening, ranked 11th amongst NHL rookies – one point out of ninth place and 23 points behind first – in half as many games as the top scorers. He’s the only player in the top 12 to have played less than 30 games, and he’s one point shy of where Kaprizov was in his first 27 games with the Wild. If Boldy can keep this pace, the Wild may have two record-setting goal scorers in the future.
Wild Waste Power Play Time
The Wild are a skilled team, but they have a knack for wasting time passing the puck. The power play is notorious for this and why they struggle to score. They were on a small streak of scoring power-play goals, but that came to an abrupt halt against the Predators when they had three chances but couldn’t convert on any of them.
Related: Wild’s Special Teams Continue Decline in Loss to Stars
Their penalty kill also faltered for the third consecutive game. It might have been a nine-game streak if the Wild had not avoided taking any penalties against the New York Rangers to break it up. What seemed like a string of bad luck is now a clear indication the Wild need to figure out what is going wrong and fix it.
Wild’s Spurgeon was Everywhere
On the night they honored their first-ever captain, the next one in line, Jared Spurgeon, had a great night despite the loss. He was all over the ice, helping out both offensively and defensively. He took the puck into the zone on several breakaway attempts that didn’t work out. He had three shots on goal plus two blocked shots and a hit.
Spurgeon has followed the same path as Koivu. He leads by example and rarely loses control; he’s spent less time in the penalty box than Koivu. He is a bit more reserved and has a bright future.
Wild Face Boston
The Wild’s next opponent will be the Boston Bruins at home on Wednesday. The last meeting between these two teams was ugly after a hard hit on Kaprizov left a bad taste in the mouths of his teammates. He missed one game, the only one he’s missed all season. Hopefully, the players will have moved on from that, and they can play a clean game as the Wild can’t afford any more injuries now that their team is finally at full health.
After a matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks, the Bruins will be playing the second game of a back-to-back. They’ve had a good season so far, and their top scorers – David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Taylor Hall – will be a problem for the Wild’s goaltender, who will likely be Cam Talbot.
The Wild’s scorers will have to deal with either Jeremy Swayman or Linus Ullmark in net. Both goalies have done well this season and have nearly identical records. Swayman was in net in their previous meeting when Boldy scored his first NHL goal. Hopefully, he can keep his scoring streak going.