So far, so good for the Minnesota Wild – for the most part.
Sure, it’s only two dates into an 82-game schedule and a pair of wins over a pair of teams that didn’t make the NHL playoffs last year, but the Wild came out of the weekend in first place in their division.
One site even has the Wild atop the league in a power poll rating system after the first week of league play.
All in all, the Wild are feeling pretty good going into Tuesday’s home opener against the Winnipeg Jets.
But Minnesota was not a perfect team over the weekend.
One troubling stat is the Wild entered Monday ranked fifth in the league in penalty minutes with 33 through two games. Marcus Foligno accounts for more than half of that himself as he is the league’s top individual with 19 minutes.
Then again, Foligno’s also did this against the Ducks.
The Wild killed off 75% of the man-advantage opportunities the Ducks and Kings combined for.
Minnesota also has struggled with faceoffs again so far with a 47.4 win percentage, which ranks 24th in the league.
Still, there were a number of positives to take away and just things to like from the first two games.
The new guys’ performances
Some of the newest members of the Minnesota Wild made an impact in the opening weekend.
Forward Frederick Gaudreau, who signed a two-year contract in July, scored the Wild’s first goal on Saturday and has seemed to be a fit on the team’s second line and power-play unit.
Speedy rookie forward Brandon Duhaime got more than nine minutes of ice time in his NHL debut against Anaheim and had a goal wiped out by a goalie interfence call against the Kings on Saturday.
Also, Dmitry Kulikov and Jon Merrill, two players who were signed this summer to bring a veteran experience to the Wild’s defensive corps, are tied with Victor Rask for the team lead in the plus/minus rating at +2.
Wild response to adversity
The Ducks and Kings both jumped out to 1-0 leads only to have the Wild answer back.
Minnesota also responded to Duhaime’s disallowed goal as Ryan Hartman scored just 27 seconds later to give the Wild a 3-1. Hartman also let Kings’ defenseman Drew Doughty know about the goal to the delight of Minnesota fans.
Doughty drew the ire of Minnesota supporters for a video interview in which he stated that Kirill Kaprizov was overpaid in his contract extension.
Talbot’s steadiness in net
Cam Talbot stopped 57 of 60 shots he faced against Anaheim and Los Angeles. One of the goals he allowed was just simply bad luck.
A shot by the Kings’ Anze Kopitar early in the third period on Saturday appeared to be headed wide of the Wild net, but deflected off Matt Dumba’s skate and in.
Talbot has a 1.51 goals against average and a .950 saves percentage.
And as a bonus ….
Kaprizov’s playmaking skills
True. The Wild standout forward didn’t score in the two games in southern California but he made a pass like this to set up Victor Rask’s goal.