The Minnesota Wild have been a team of excellence this season, so much so, that even with the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols postponing two games and potentially a third later this week, it’s time to look at what is bringing this excellence to the team and how they could start a new win streak.
One thing that probably been fascinating to Wild fans is the propelled play of Ryan Hartman. Let’s give the man some credit and a whole lot of stick taps. He’s playing in a role that he normally hasn’t as a center and for a lack of better wording, he’s been nothing short of fantastic. Currently, Hartman ranks 2nd on the Wild with points with 24 which equals out to his 13 goals and 11 assists he owns this season.
He’s been seeing a ton of playing time with phenom Kirill Kaprizov and veteran Mats Zuccarello and that’s only attributed to his success, he’s been seen on the power play and has been great in the three-on-three overtime. Hartman just seems to be coming in the clutch when the Wild need him the most and he isn’t showing signs of slowing down any time soon.
Speaking of Kirill The Thrill, he was often being referred to as having a slow start this season but that was only temporary as ‘The Thrill’ began to pick up the scoring one goal and one assist at a time and being more simplistic as a hockey player and not trying to do too much.
Maybe it was the pep-talk for Head Coach Dean Evason about how he needs to shoot the puck more and showing him video of his missed opportunities. Kaprizov has taken a lot of shots this season and at this time currently as 102 shots. One other note of interest on Kaprizov is his career total in points is 84 with 84 games played, not too shabby for a 5th round pick.
The whole entire defense needs stick taps from the get go. Even with Injuries to captain Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin, the Wild have still been great locking down behind their own blueline. A lot of credit is due the play of three off-season signings in Dmitry Kulikov, Jon Merrill and Jordie Benn. Kulikov has been a great replacement for Ian Cole who left in the off-season.
It seems General Manager Bill Guerin picked names out of a hat for Merrill and Benn but even with Benn’s slow start, he’s been great as of late (no pun, I promise) and for Merrill, he is on the verge of having a career year as he owns 3 goals and 8 assists which puts him at 11 for the season and his career high is 15 back in the 18-19 season with Vegas.
The one last thing is the Wild’s last line of defense, goaltending. Cam Talbot has been unbelievably sharper than a hockey skate this season with posting 15 wins in his 22 appearances this season. Kaapo Kahkonen has seen some rough games lately but he is still in the positive category with 4 wins in his 7 appearances.
It’s newsworthy to report that as of the time of this article being published, Michael Russo is reporting that the NHL has postponed Thursday’s Wild vs Redwings game due to COVID-19 protocols which that 3 of the last 5 games for the Wild being postponed. At this point, who knows when the Wild will see the ice again but when they do, they’ll be well rested and ready to begin a new win streak.
*All stats/info from NHL.com