Last night's game leaves a sour taste in our collective mouths, but the Wild actually came within a Darcy Kuemper dumpster fire away from going 3-0-0 this week. They avoided the trap game against the (then-winless) Columbus Blue Jackets and kicked the Ducks around in what was a weird, but immensely enjoyable experience.
And now for the scary news.
Devan Dubnyk has some sort of knee injury going on. Apparently, it's not structural, and it didn't stop Dubnyk from having a solid relief appearance against the Jets last night. But after watching Kuemper melt down after an early goal, any hint that Dubnyk may have to miss time is concerning. In addition, it's hard to watch Jason Pominville's head get slammed into the boards by Dustin Byfuglien and believe that he escaped without any sort of head injury. If Pominville misses time, that's a huge blow to the Wild's Top-6. Whether those two are healthy may set the tone for how the Wild do this week.
This Week's Schedule
Tuesday, October 27th vs Edmonton Oilers; 7:00 PM (FSN, FSN-WI)
Friday, October 30th vs Chicago Blackhawks; 7:00 PM (FSN)
Saturday, October 31st @ St. Louis Blues; 7:00 PM (FSN)
Game of the Week
Circle your calendars, the Chicago Blackhawks are coming to town on Friday night. The Blackhawks look different than when they eliminated the Wild en route to a Stanley Cup Championship, losing Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp, and Johnny Oduya in the offseason. Despite these losses, the Hawks are basically backfilling with top young players up front in Artemi Panarin and Teuvo Teravainen. And let's not forget, any team that boasts both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane is going to be a threat.
The Wild aren't really going to prove they're more than the Blackhawks' punching bags until they defeat them in a playoff series, but a big divisional win here would be great, nonetheless.
Key Player of the Week: Jonas Brodin
Jared Spurgeon may have had an ugly night in Winnipeg (he was -5), and Matt Dumba may be under the media microscope for his inconsistency, but Jonas Brodin is my pick for "Defender who needs to step it up". Brodin's defense has been good thus far, but he's providing even less than usual on the offensive side of the puck. His puck-moving skills have been nowhere to be found, and he's crippled the offense of just about everyone who's taken the ice with him.
Brodin is likely never going to be a scoring defenseman, and he's so good at defense that he doesn't have to be a scorer to be great. He does, however, need to create opportunities for his teammates by using his skating and passing ability to move the puck up the ice and into the offensive zone. Against tough defensive centers like Toews and David Backes, Brodin is going to have his work cut out for him if he doesn't find his game.
Key Opponent of the Week: Brent Seabrook
It's tough not to put Vladimir Tarasenko for a terrifying Halloween match-up, but I'm going to go with a player on the Blackhawks here. Brent Seabrook got a massive 8-year deal over the summer, and he's quickly being given the chance to earn it. All-world defenseman Duncan Keith is on the shelf for 4-to-6 weeks after undergoing knee surgery, leaving Seabrook as the top option on a defense that gets pretty thin after himself, Keith, and Niklas Hjarlmasson. The Blackhawks have won the two games since Keith's injury, but speedy Wild forwards like Jason Zucker and Zach Parise are capable of exploiting a weak defense. Seabrook needs to be on his A-Game Friday if the Hawks are going to prevail.