Can the Wild Turn Things Around Back at Home?

Creator: John Jones | Credit: USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

The Minnesota Wild returned from a three-game road trip with only one point to show. After a terrible game against the Philadelphia Flyers, a much better game against the Washinton Capitals, and a backslide against the New Jersey Devils, the Wild have a small break. They will face the Devils again on Thursday. Until then, they have two days off, plus a practice on Wednesday.

Roster Changes

The Wild announced that they reassigned Daemon Hunt and Jujhar Khaira to the Iowa Wild. Hunt was on the ice for just shy of 10 minutes, split between the two games he played. Khaira played 8 minutes during the game against the Flyers but was healthy scratched for the other two games. Dakota Mermis and Vinni Lettieri are still with the Minnesota Wild.

There are still three players out with injuries, two of them being on LTIR. Jared Spurgeon was placed on LTIR retroactively to when he was injured. That means he is eligible to play starting on Saturday, November 4th. Alex Goligoski is also on LTIR, but no timetable has been given for his return.

The one big question mark is Matt Boldy. He has been skating along with Spurgeon. And after the two days off, he is set to practice with the Wild on Wednesday. Could that mean he might be back for Thursday’s game against the Devils? Let’s hope so because this team needs a pop of energy like that.

Was There Anything Good About This Road Trip?

There are always good things if fans look hard enough. Marc-Andre Fleury played great on Friday and was rewarded with the net again on Sunday. Coach Dean Evason challenged his second goal of the season and has won both challenges. Two of last night’s goals were from unlikely goal scorers. Jake Middleton scored in the third to bring the Wild within one. 

Pat Maroon scored the first Wild goal of the game. Maroon has been one of the surprises of the season so far. In the past six games, he has six points. He’s also brought the physicality and energy that Bill Guerin hoped he would. Maroon has also been a great voice for the locker room, admitting in postgame interviews that the failures aren’t on the goalies or the coaches but on the players themselves. 

Ryan Hartman has also been great and was named NHL’s third star of the week this week. During the four games this week, Hartman scored five goals and two assists for seven total points. He tallied his second career hat trick and his second career five-point game last Tuesday against the Oilers.

What Needs Work?

A lot needs work because some parts of the Wild’s game are downright bad. Let’s start with the top line. While Hartman has obviously been productive, Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello continue to stay mostly off of the score sheet. They’ve been resorting to a lot of passing to each other and not a lot of shooting. In the nine games played so far this season, Kaprizov and Zuccarello only have 9 points each. 

Special teams are a killer. The Wild had six power plays but only scored on one. Instead, there was a lot of passing around the circle and only a few shots being taken. The penalty kill was also awful. Out of three Devils power plays, they scored on two of them.

What Can We Expect on Thursday?

Hopefully, it will be a game that looks closer to when they played the Capitals or even the home opener against the Florida Panthers. It would be great if Boldy could get back into the lineup. It would also be nice to get Fleury closer to passing another record. He is only seven games away from passing Patrick Roy for the second-most games won by an NHL goaltender. Before the season started, that seemed like an easy record for him to pass. Unfortunately, it’s been more of a struggle than that.

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