Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

The Minnesota Wild just finished up another week of hockey, and that means it’s time to talk about who succeeded and who didn’t. They played four games, one at home and the next three on the road. They decisively won at home over the Edmonton Oilers and then went on to crash and burn in the following three games against the Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, and New Jersey Devils. 

The top performers for the Wild this week have one predictable player and several surprises. What won’t be a surprise is where they struggled the most. We’ll start with the success and work our way to the areas needing improvement. 

Wild’s Surprising Stars

The first name on this list that led the team for the week probably isn’t a surprise since he sits at the center position of the top line, but Ryan Hartman usually isn’t the one in the spotlight. This week, however, he is, as he tallied seven points in the last four games. He scored his second career hat trick in the Wild’s win over the Oilers and went on to tally two more goals for a total of five, plus two assists to make up his seven points. 

Ryan Hartman, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Next on the list is someone who’s been expected to step up but has fallen short until this week. That player was Marcus Foligno, who quietly notched two goals and two assists for four points. He was also second on the team with eight hits, right behind Brandon Duhaime, who had nine. 

The following two players also had four points and recorded them similarly with a single goal and three assists. The first player is Jake Middleton, who, like Foligno, snuck his way up the list as he’s not known for his scoring. He’s shown some flashes of offense but not typically more than a point or two a week. The final player was one of the newest to the Wild roster in Pat Maroon, again someone not known for scoring, but he proved what he could do this past week. 

Wild’s Troublesome Area

Thankfully, the Wild figured out how to score on the power play at the end of the week against the Devils. Hopefully, it’ll be an upward trend from here, and they’ll put in more goals while on the man advantage. The genuinely troublesome area is their penalty kill and the fact they allowed six goals in four games while being shorthanded.

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While they figured it out towards the end of the week, the Wild began the week by taking too many penalties per game. Surprisingly, they still came out with the win over the Oilers despite having 17 minutes in penalties. They fixed their number of penalties, but they still couldn’t fix the actual penalty kill. 

Dean Evason, Head Coach of the Minnesota Wild (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

They allowed at least one power play goal per game, and it only got worse as the week went on. It’s been talked about in nearly every takeaway this season, but it seemed to hit rock bottom this past week. The Wild’s penalty kill seemed confused at times and definitely out of position. They have to figure out how to fix this soon, as special teams are extremely important for successful teams.

Wild’s Week Ahead

The Wild have a bit of a quieter week ahead of them, with just two games on the schedule. They’ll take on the Devils for the second time in less than a week on Thursday, Nov. 2, at home. They’ll stay home through the end of the week when they take on the New York Rangers on Saturday, Nov. 4. 

Related: Wild Mount Comeback But Fall Short in Shootout

They’ll have areas to improve, but they’ll also have to keep scorers like Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, Tyler Toffoli, Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox, and Mika Zibanejad off the scoreboard. Again, the scorers won’t be the only problem; the Wild must also find their way past the goaltending of either Vítek Vaněček or Akira Schmid and Igor Shesterkin or Jonathan Quick. 

Hopefully, they’ll continue to have success from their surprise players but also get some more production from their top line. If they can do that, plus fix their numerous issues, they’ll be on the way to winning games.

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The post Wild Check-In: Hartman, Foligno Step Up But Penalty Kill Struggles appeared first on WorldNewsEra.


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