The Iowa Wild‘s losing streak has reached seven straight. It’s a terrible mark to hit, but it’s a streak that isn’t without some explanation.
One of the big things hurting Iowa right now — a team who struggled at their healthiest — is that they’re fielding a team that features just nine players who were a part of the team on opening night. A combination of injuries in Iowa and injuries with the Minnesota Wild have left this team looking very different than it has for the majority of the year.
When the puck dropped for Iowa on Thursday, the Minnesota Wild had Stu Bickel, Matt Dumba, Jordan Schroeder, Stephane Veilleux, and Michael Keranen up at the NHL level, all of who have spent significant time in Iowa this year. Add to that, the Wild were about to recall Christian Folin, which meant that the team kept him out of the lineup. That made one extra player they were missing since the reassignment of Bickel to Iowa hadn’t been made official yet.
The team is also missing Gustav Olofsson, Josh Harding, Joel Rechlicz, Brad Richard, Guillaume Gelinas, Raphael Bussieres, Benjamin Diede-Fauvel, and Brett Bulmer due to injury. It’s been a rough run for Iowa, who were also without Ruslan Fedotenko for all but two games of the current losing streak.
Thursday night, the Wild finished off the last half of a back-to-back against the Charlotte Checkers in Charlotte. They managed to get the lead early in this one with Zack Mitchell grabbing a goal, his 15th of the year, early in the first. He continues to raise the bar of the Iowa rookie scoring record, which he’s already set this season.
That lead lasted until 58 seconds into the second period, when Brock McGinn evened up the score. Less than four minutes later Zach Boychuk gave the Checkers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish after he beat Iowa goaltender Johan Gustafsson.
Gustafsson has started just one game since January 23, a span that includes a reassignment to the Alaska Aces. He got in a few minutes on Wednesday when he came into the game in relief of John Curry, but he’s otherwise seen very little game time since his return.
At the end of the second, Zach Phillips scored his seventh goal of the year, a tally that would make it 3-2 in favor of Charlotte. That’s just his second goal since December 16.
It looked like rookie Greg Wolfe would get his first AHL point as an assist on the Phillips goal, but a scoring change sent that point over to recent acquisition Collin Bowman instead.
The Checkers would go on to score more more in the third for a final tally of 4-2. Once again, Iowa outshot their opponent in a loss. This one was close, but Iowa held the edge 35-33.
It’s was a loss that sunk the Wild deeper into the AHL’s basement with a record of 17-36-1-1. The only team they could plausibly catch to avoid the title of worst record in the AHL for a second year in a row is the Charlotte Checkers, a team who just beat them two nights in a row.