The Minnesota Wild had a slightly different look to their roster when they faced the Golden Knights after a blockbuster trade day. They had some new faces and number changes that worked in their favor as they started the game with the lead. They also had newfound energy that affected every player in their lineup. They maintained the lead throughout the first, second, and third periods to walk away with their third straight win, 3-0.
As most fans know by now, the Wild acquired Marc-André Fleury for a conditional first-round pick if the Wild make it to the Western Conference Final and Fleury has four wins between the first and second round. He wasn’t the only acquisition the Wild made, they also traded Kaapo Kahkonen to the San Jose Sharks for Jacob Middleton, who will make his debut on Thursday. They also added Nicolas Deslauriers from the Anaheim Ducks a couple of days prior to the deadline and gave the Ducks a third-round selection in the 2023 Draft.
Wild’s Deslauriers Makes Debut
The addition of Deslauriers paid off immediately as he scored the first goal of the game against the Golden Knights which gave his team a huge energy boost that lasted the entire period. He not only elevated their energy but their physicality as well. He’s a big forward that is known for his hitting skills and with every big hit he made, his teammates tried to do the same. He contributed six out of the Wild’s 34 hits and had Joel Eriksson Ek right behind him with five.
He’s a physical player that can play defense as well, he blocked one shot and backchecked hard to stop one of the Golden Knights’ scoring chances when the defense was caught off guard. He’s made a great first impression on Wild fans, as he’s not only got physicality but also a surprising amount of speed. It will be interesting to see how he contributes going forward.
Wild’s Second Period Struggles
While the Wild’s other issues have been sorting themselves out, their second-period struggles have not gone anywhere. It was a problem against the Golden Knights again as they had a stellar first period but when they came out for the second, they seemed flat. They were making bad passes that became turnovers and didn’t have the same energy as before.
Related: Minnesota Wild Trade Deadline History
Thankfully the issues were isolated to the second period and when they came back out for the third, they had rediscovered their energy and ended up keeping their giveaways to just one in the period compared to three in the second. They need to figure out what is causing them to lose their way in the second only to find it again in the third. In the playoffs, they have to put together three solid periods or they will be out in a hurry.
Wild’s Penalty Kill Survives
The Wild’s penalty kill was by far one of the worst areas in their last month of games. They were letting in power-play goals nearly every game, but now they’ve been able to string together two straight games without letting in one. They’ve been making sure to cover the weak side forward and not let them sneak by. Cam Talbot was not left out to dry and was able to make the big saves with the help of his defense.
Their penalty kill percentage is now at 76.3 percent. They’ve also dropped the number of penalties they’ve taken in the last couple of games. They had six minutes of penalties in the last two games but before that, they were at over 10 minutes per game. Making those slight improvements has helped their penalty kill and they’ll need to continue to work on it and help out their goalies.
Wild’s Talbot Shuts Out Golden Knights
Talbot stopped all 28 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season. A number of those shots were high-quality chances and he stopped them all. He is finally getting out of the funk he’s been in for the last month or so and is starting to like he did at the beginning of the season. He’s been in net for the last five wins the Wild have tallied.
He’s also steadily improved his goals-against average (GAA) each game he’s played. It started against the New York Rangers when he let in two goals but had a hiccup against the Detroit Red Wings where he let in five. Since that game, however, he’s had a 2.00 GAA or less. His save percentage (SV%) has done the same. Against the Red Wings, he had a .853 SV% but lately, it’s gone up to .955.
Wild Face Canucks
The Wild will remain at home and have two days off before they return to play against the Vancouver Canucks. They’ll see their former coach Bruce Boudreau who has a record of 22-11-6 since taking over in December. They’ll be on the second game of a back-to-back when they come to Minnesota and will have just faced the Colorado Avalanche.
The threats to look out for are J.T. Miller, Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson, and Bo Horvat, who are all having seasons with over 40 points. As far as goaltending is concerned, it looks like Thatcher Demko will be in net. The Wild’s goaltending on the other hand may be interesting as it could be either Talbot again or Fleury may make his Wild debut. They look to have gotten their season headed in the right direction and with the additions they’ve made, it appears the success will continue into the future.