Justin Walters The Hockey Writers
Wild Weekly: Wild Struggle Mightily in 2 Games Against Avalanche
Welcome to this week’s installment of Minnesota Wild Weekly, which will take a look at the past week of Wild hockey. It will include notes, the biggest takeaways, and, of course, the review of the week.
Week in Review
We got to witness two very different versions of the Minnesota Wild this week. On Tuesday, the Wild had a dominating performance in a 3-0 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Kaapo Kähkönen made 31 saves for his second career shutout to lead the Wild to their third straight victory against the Coyotes.
The next two games came against the Colorado Avalanche, and it wasn’t pretty. The Avalanche outscored the Wild 11-1 in those two games, which could have been even more lopsided. The Wild got dominated for 120 straight minutes and didn’t have an answer to anything the Avalanche threw at them.
It was easily the worst two-game performance of the season for the Wild; they got embarrassed. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s possibly a big wake-up call for the team moving forward.
Takeaway’s, Notes & Concerns
Kähkönen’s impact on this team is massive; he has kept this team afloat with outstanding goaltending this season. He looks like a veteran in the NHL with his calmness and stability in the net. He has given the Wild a steady tandem alongside Cam Talbot and looks to be getting better game by game.
Spurgeon finally scored his first goal as captain on Tuesday, firing a slapshot past Coyotes goaltender Adin Hill. His offensive game hasn’t been where he wants it to be so far this season but getting his first goal could be what gets the monkey off his back. With 12 goals in 62 games last season, Spurgeon is someone the Wild expect to be scoring more than once in 29 games.
Soucy was suspended for Thursday night’s game due to a hit he landed on Coyotes forward Connor Garland on Tuesday night. Soucy elevated his body into the check, which resulted in him making contact with Garland’s head, and he received a major penalty for the collision but remained in Tuesday night’s game.
Shots on Net
Simply saying the Wild got outshot against the Avalanche is an understatement. During the first period in their game on Thursday night, the Wild were outshot 25-6. Most of those six shots came right at the end of the period; most of the period was spent with less than three shots on net.
The Avalanche are a dynamic puck possession team, but this was an unacceptable performance from the Wild. They looked defeated from the second the puck was dropped to start the game. The final shots on net tally after the two games were 97-51 for the Avalanche.
Games to Forget
The shots on goal differential only tell a bit of the story. In these two games, were the Avalanche really that good, or were the Wild really that bad? The answer is probably both, the Avalanche brought their A-game both nights, and the Wild struggled in just about every aspect of the game.
They weren’t skating well enough, losing battles for the puck and made far too many mistakes. The Wild had a chance to create some separation between them and the Avalanche in the West division; instead, the Avalanche now find themselves three points clear of the Wild for 2nd place.
Standings Tracker & Injury Update
With two straight blowout losses to the Avalanche, the Wild now sit tied for third in the West with the St. Louis Blues. They have two games in hand on the Blues, which is crucial to remember heading into the second half of the season. They are currently five points clear of the Los Angeles Kings, who sit in fifth place, right outside the playoff picture.
Matt Dumba fell awkwardly into the boards in Thursday night’s game and seemed to really hurt his leg on the unfortunate play. There’s no exact timeline for Dumba right now, but even head coach Dean Evason said it didn’t look very good. Dumba needed help getting off the ice after the fall and was placed on injured reserve on Sunday.
Marcus Johansson might be ready to return to game action this week as he was practicing on Sunday, skating on a line with Joel Eriksson Ek and Jordan Greenway.
After starting the week off with their third straight victory against the Coyotes and fifth straight overall, the Wild were given a hard reality check against the Avalanche. With the standings still so close in the West division, it’s going to be important for the Wild to quickly forget about these games and not let this turn into a long-lasting slump.
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