Going Wild in Minnesota

AP Photo/Jim Mone
AP Photo/Jim Mone

There are a lot of good teams in the NHL that are getting talked about a lot.

Teams like the Boston Bruins (62 points), Carolina Hurricanes (56 points), Vegas Golden Knights (54 points), Toronto Maple Leafs (53 points), Dallas Stars (52 points), and the New Jersey Devils have been the team garnering the most attention so far. It is easy to see why that is the case considering that these are the top six teams in the league.

One team that seems to be flying under the radar is the Minnesota Wild. As of this writing (Thursday, January 5), the team is third in the Central Division and 12th in the league with a 22-13-2 record (46 points).

With the Wild playing so well, they are just three points behind the Winnipeg Jets and six points behind the division-leading Dallas Stars. There are a few reasons why the team finds itself in a great spot.

For starters, you cannot talk about the Wild’s success this season without first mentioning the great play of Kirill Kaprizov. Kaprizov leads the team with 47 points on 22 goals and 25 assists.

It seems like Kaprizov does something new every single night, whether it is a sneaky move, a new way to go to the net, or a new way to create offense, the 25-year-old drives this team’s offense and does everything he can to make plays.

Speaking of providing consistent offense, his linemate, veteran Mats Zuccarello, has been terrific for the Wild. He is second on the team in points with 40 on 16 goals and 24 assists.

When it comes to Zuccarello, the team gets the same effort out of him every game. He works hard, backchecks, plays in all situations, creates scoring opportunities, and usually finds himself on the scoresheet at the end of the night. There really is not much else you can ask out of a player.

The team has also gotten solid offense from Joel Eriksson Ek (29 points) and Matt Boldy (29 points). The Wild still need to improve their offense, as they are 19th in the league in goals scored, which means that other players need to start stepping up.

Defensively, the Wild have been terrific. They are seventh in the league in goals allowed as they have given up 102 goals in 37 games (2.76 goals-against per game).

While Marc-Andre Fleury is the starter, backup Filip Gustavsson has performed better so far for the Wild. He is 9-5-0-1 with a 2.25 goals-against average, a .924 save percentage, and one shutout, while Fleury is 13-8-0-1 with a 2.81 goals-against average, a .904 save percentage, and one shutout.

If the team continues to play this way, there is no reason why they cannot be strong Stanley Cup contenders come April.

Stanley Cup Aspirations Cue’ the Duck Boats Pod

The boys are back after a long break but have plenty to talk about as the playoffs are in full swing. We go series by series, looking at how teams have fared so far and who will come out on top. Thanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Stanley Cup Aspirations
  2. The Final Countdown
  3. Here Come the Playoffs
  4. Home Stretch
  5. Kevy Cooks

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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