True, the Minnesota Wild are only about two weeks into an 82-game schedule and they won’t make a run at the Montreal Canadiens mark for most points in a season as fun as that would be.
Losses will happen, especially when a team is shorthanded. But the Wild’s 4-1 loss to the Seattle Kraken just didn’t sit right, even if it was the team’s first setback on the road this season.
Maybe it’s the fact that the expansion team controlled the play for the majority of the first period and throughout the second.
The Wild came out and dominated play for the majority of the third period — a familiar storyline that played out for the team over the past several seasons. And was troubling to see them fall back into that style. Hopefully it does not become a pattern this year.
Yes, Mats Zuccarello and Rem Pitlick were placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol on Thursday morning, and Alex Goligoski and Dmitry Kulikov were both ruled out with injuries later that afternoon. But does that explain the Kraken being able to record 27 of 32 shots on net between the two teams in a stretch over the first and second periods.
“I don’t know if our thought process was that it was going to be an easy night.” Wild coach Dean Evason said in a postgame media session. “(For) eight to 10 minutes we were playing extremely well, but, you know, I think we got a little ahead of ourselves. Obviously (Seattle) is a really good team and just kept pushing and playing hard. They took the game over after that.
“We didn’t do a lot of right things in this hockey game and the outcome was deserving of that.”
There also was the midgame breakup of what seemed to be a dream line of Kevin Fiala-Joel Eriksson Ek-Kirill Kaprizov . That move came after the group showed more fizzle than sizzle against the Kraken.
It makes one ponder as the Wild have dropped two of their past three games after a 4-0 start to the year. Wild players and Evason talked about a lack of energy in a loss to Nashville last weekend and the team seemed to be off their game again on Thursday in Seattle.
And speaking of being off their game, Kaprizov had a pretty no-look assist on Ryan Hartman’s goal to open the Kraken game and finished with six shots on net. But he still doesn’t have a goal yet and neither does Fiala who finished with three shots on net against Seattle as well as a number of sloppy turnovers.
Needless to say, it has led to fans wondering what is the issue with both players who are expected to be the playmakers on the squad.
“We didn’t like them together obviously and I think we switched them at the halfway point of the game,” Evason said. “It just didn’t look right to us and they weren’t doing a lot of the same things that the group were trying to do.”
Evason didn’t stop there
Again, it is early. The Wild entered Friday tied with St. Louis for first place in the Central Division standings and goalie Cam Talbot’s overall play has been among the bright spots so far.
Minnesota travels to Colorado on Saturday and a win, or at least a good rebound effort, would go a long way in reducing some concerns.
One can hope.