The Minnesota Wild played their first game in Sweden, and even though they lost, they managed to come away with a point and some confidence. The Ottawa Senators won the game 2-1 in a shootout. However, it isn’t all bad because it seems like the Wild have fixed a few of their problem areas. In this Sweden preview post, there were three things to watch for improvement from the Wild. They were goaltending, special teams, and their superstars.
Filip Gustavsson has had a rough start to his season, even though he was solid in the season opener against the Florida Panthers. After being one of the best goalies in the league last year, he came into the game against the Senators with a 2-4-1 record. The Wild lost during Gustavsson’s last start, and two games ago, he gave up three goals on three shots in the first 7 minutes of play. Things weren’t looking good.
But this Sweden trip must have sparked something in Gustavsson because he looked like he’d just teleported into the net from last season. He saved 31 out of 32 shots and had a save percentage of 0.968. There were several times that Gustavsson was practically standing on his head because of defensive mistakes.
It will be interesting to see who is in the net against the Leafs. The Wild have less than 24 hours between their back-to-back games. It would make sense for Marc-Andre Fleury to have a chance to start. But Gustavsson made a good argument to start again, especially because after Sunday, the Wild have five days until their next game.
This one is a 50/50. The penalty kill was great, but the power play still needs work. But even some improvement is encouraging. The Wild managed to kill off all 4 power plays that the Senators had, and they looked good doing it.
Power plays were a different story. The Wild also had 4 power plays, and the Senators managed to kill all of them off without allowing a goal. The eye test says that the power play was better, though, which is a sigh of relief. Tomorrow’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs will be a good test to see if the power play is improving or not.
The individual effort for both Matt Boldy and Kirill Kaprizov just wasn’t there today. Kaprizov only had one shot on goal against the Senators and Boldy only got two. There were plenty of opportunities for Kaprizov to shoot when he chose to pass instead.
What Else Went Well?
The rookies seem to be the foundation that this team is built on. The only goal was a Marco Rossi tip-in on a Brock Faber shot from the blue line. Faber was all over the ice and strong defensively as always. Rossi was noticeably present in all of the right areas. He isn’t afraid to take it to the net anymore.
Ryan Hartman was out due to illness but is expected to be back for the game against Toronto. Nic Petan drew into the lineup on the fourth line, bumping Vinni Lettieri up to the third line between Marcus Foligno and Pat Maroon.
Freddy Gaudreau is eligible to play tomorrow after sitting out the 10 games required to be put on Long-Term Injured Reserve. It all comes down to how Gaudreau is feeling, but hopefully, he’ll be back soon.
Wild vs. Maple Leafs
If this meeting between the teams goes at all like the last one did, it’ll make some exciting early morning viewing for fans that are stateside. It was a high-scoring affair, with the Wild losing 7-4. Ryan Reaves laid a big hit on Freddy Gaudreau that prompted Marcus Foligno to drop the mitts with the old Wild teammate. Gaudreau subsequently went on LTIR due to the injury he sustained on the hit.
The matchup between the Wild and the Leafs is slated to start at 7 am CT.