For the first time in nearly a month, the Minnesota Wild played multiple games. After the Winter Classic, they didn’t play for four days in a row, not as bad as the past few weeks. Not only have their schedules been turned upside down, but so have their lineups. At first, it was an injury issue, but lately COVID has crept into their roster as well.
Last week, they faced two of the stronger teams in the NHL in the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals. The Bruins aren’t very high in the standings, but they’re still playing tough. Unfortunately, in that game, Wild does win But they also lost a dangerous bat from leading producer Kirill Kaprizov. He was removed from the game and will not play in the next game against the Capitals on Saturday, Jan. 8.
Wild except for Kapritsov’s absence Nor Jared Spurgeon, Joel Eriksson Ek, Jonas Brodin, Cam Talbot, Nick Bjugstad, Jordan Greenway, Brandon Duhaime and Alex Goligoski. All were injured except Greenway, Duhaime and Goligoski, who were in the COVID protocol. Brodin returned against the Bears, but missed the game against the Capitals two days later with another injury. It was impressive that Wild was able to top two straight games with so many players out. They have a lot of players who have had success and only a few who have faltered.
Wild’s Foligno, Zuccarello, Brodin & Fiala
Despite all the lines switching to fill the void, Wild has had success with many of the players in the lineup. Marcus Folino Tops the list with goals and assists. The interesting thing about his goals is that he didn’t have to do anything to score other than being the last man to touch the ball. The Wilds took a delayed penalty against the Capitals and the Capitals withdrew their goalkeeper. When going around the puck, there was a miscommunication and the Caps forward threw the puck to the defender on the blue line, but it missed and slid down the empty net. Foligno happened to be the last player to touch the ball and was scored, which was also 100th goals of his career.
Next on the list is Mats Zucarello, despite the absence of his main teammate, Kapritsov, who stepped forward and worked with whoever was on his line at the time. He was able to stay paired with center Ryan Hartman, but the other wing was flipped. He, like Flinho, has both goals and assists in the past two games, with his goals tying the Capitals as they go on to win.
The last two on the list are Jonas Brodin and Kevin Fiala. They both have two assists — Brodin recorded two of his assists against the Bears. It was his first game back from the COVID protocol after missing the Winter Classic. Fiala assists In each game, one against the Bears and an assist and field goal in a win over the Capitals. He went from taking too many penalties at the start of the game to become one of the last heroes.
wild hartman and dunbar fight
Wild had some players who struggled to have any success over the past week. One of those players is Ryan Hartman. His overall game is good, but his struggles are in the points department. He had two hits, one block and six field goals, four against the Bruins and two against the Capitals. He was second on the team in total shots but failed to score in two games. He scored in four straight games before the last two games. He also had a giveaway that was unusual for him. He has only seven giveaways in total in 33 games and has gone five straight without a giveaway before the most recent one.
Another player with similar issues with Hartman is Matt Dunbar. He has a total of three giveaways in two games, one against the Bears and two against the Capitals. Unlike Hartman, however, Dunbar assisted Zuccarello’s goal against the Capitals. On defense, he made up for those giveaways with a block per game. Thankfully, Wild’s trouble spots are pretty small, but there’s a brighter side to it than just winning.
Wild’s boldness grew up with Rosie
After Kapritsov’s debut, wild fans turned to the next prospect, Matt Bordi and Marco Rossi.This a pair raised Fill in some of the voids created by all the injuries in the lineup. Boldy impressed almost immediately, scoring in the second period of the Bears’ game and giving the Wilds a 3-1 lead. It ended up being the winner of the contest and in front of close friends and family near his hometown of Milford, Massachusetts.
Rossi didn’t score, but he played well in his first two NHL games. He made five shots, one hit, one block, and unfortunately, he had a giveaway. They’ve both played well, and once they’re in the lineup full-time, it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Wild’s Week Ahead
With two of their games postponed due to COVID capacity issues, the Wilds are set to have another quiet week. The races were originally scheduled for Monday, January 10 in Winnipeg and Wednesday, January 12 in Edmonton. Instead, they must wait until Friday night to host the Anaheim Ducks. Bordi and Rossi won’t be in that game because Bordi was sent to the cab team and Rossi was sent back to the Iowa Wilderness. The Wild is looking forward to the return of Eriksson Ek and Kaprizov. Hopefully the Wild can get them back and continue to play the way they’ve played their last two games to keep the streak going.
Mariah Holland is a contributor to THW’s Minnesota Wild and co-host of the THW Youtube show Chicks & Sticks, which produces a new show every Friday. She’s been covering Wild at THW for over 8 months, and she’s been on Chicks & Sticks since early May. She’s always looking for a different angle to cover the wilderness and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team.