The Minnesota Wild improved to 9-8-2 with a decisive and important win against their Central Division rival, the Winnipeg Jets. A six-goal showing in perhaps their best game offensively so far this season has them with a pair of wins at home against two potential playoff teams, giving hope that the dominant team from last season may be returning. In a breakthrough game for the offensively challenged Wild, a total of five players found the back of the net with 10 players collecting at least one point.
Wild’s Depth & Defense Generating Offense
One of the most dangerous aspects of the 2021-22 Wild was their ability to generate offense from all four forward lines and all three defensive pairs. On any given night their opponent was forced to choose which line to focus on, leaving the other lines open to take advantage before the other team could adapt. In stark contrast to last season’s team, the 2022-23 Wild are struggling to produce any amount of sustained offense.
It was a nice change of pace last night with chances coming from across the board as Matt Dumba put together his first multipoint game of the year, Marcus Foligno had a two-goal performance, and Matt Boldy broke out with three points. If the Wild have any hopes of improving their currently third-worst in the NHL five-on-five goals for, they will need the entire team to continue generating offense, not just a select few stars. The emergence of some of their depth players as true scoring threats could be key in them getting their season back on track.
Injury Bug Bites Back
Not all is wonderful for the Wild though, as an already lengthy injury list may have gotten a little longer. With number one center Ryan Hartman still out indefinitely and starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury battling an upper-body injury, the Wild also announced before the start of the game they would be without Jonas Brodin due to a non-COVID illness. If that wasn’t enough, Brandon Duhaime, who was injured earlier this season, missed the entirety of the third period and Marcus Foligno, also injured earlier this season, was rushed down the tunnel in major distress in the closing minutes of the game.
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While it is inevitable that an NHL team will battle injuries over the course of the season, an already struggling Wild team has been hit by injuries in key areas multiple times already. While the emergence of some younger players like Mason Shaw and Sam Steel has helped to soften the blow, the continued loss of players to injuries may be a major hurdle in their recent attempt to regain some ground in the standings.
Kaprizov & Gustavsson Stood Tall in Key Moments
In every game there are key moments that can alter the outcome of the entire game and the team that is the best at taking advantage of those moments will likely come away with the win. The Jets put together a strong second period and carried all the momentum into the third period. Kirill Kaprizov was handed one of those key moments on the powerplay and extended the Wild’s lead to three goals only 28 seconds into the period. His goal flipped the momentum to the Wild and they refused to give it back.
At the other end of the ice, Filip Gustavsson quietly had a massive performance with a .966 save percentage while only allowing a single goal against. Coming into the season the Wild knew they would need him to be good enough to get a few wins, but he did more than that in this game with some absolutely critical saves throughout that allowed the Wild to roll to a comfortable win.
Wild Need Momentum in Remaining Homestand Games
With four games remaining in their homestand, the Wild have an opportunity to string together some wins against some tough opponents and remind the rest of the league that they are still a force to be reckoned with. Hopefully, a duo of statement victories will have given them enough momentum for their Friday, Nov. 25 matinee battle with an always-potent Toronto Maple Leafs team that recently ended the New Jersey Devils’ ridiculous 13-game win streak. Reinforcements will also be on their way in the form of the newly acquired Ryan Reaves and the possible return of Fleury.
Being from the east coast of Canada, I’ve grown up immersed in hockey since before I was old enough to walk. The Minnesota Wild joined the league right as I was trying to find a favourite team and I have been committed to them ever since. I like to take breaks from my day job of writing reports as a Scientist by writing articles about my hockey passion. Follow me on twitter @tysmck15 for my latest.