1 — Joel Eriksson Ek’s scoring touch returned for the only Wild goal.
Outside of Eriksson Ek’s sensational hat trick game, the Wild’s top center scored just two goals through 13 games before Tuesday. Not the exact number you want from one of your best players, but certainly not the most concerning goalscoring option on the team (oops, Kaprizov). Well, against the Sharks he bounced back for a wicked shot that beat James Reimer cleanly through his legs after he just dangled around Tomas Hertl.
ERIKSSON EK. BEAUTIFUL. pic.twitter.com/EE2huSq20z— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) November 17, 2021
It wasn’t just this scoring chance that earned Eriksson Ek a spotlight, but he was able to consistently find the net. Tying his season high in shots on goal with four, the 24-year-old had all of his attempts force Reimer to make a save and they were of a decent enough quality as well. Maybe it’s a sign of things to come or just a fluke, but considering that he has moved on from Kaprizov in the lineup and is now paired with Kevin Fiala as an offensive threat, Eriksson Ek will get more opportunities in the future.
2 — Matt Dumba came to play in redemption for previous giveaway.
Dumba was the victim of certainly the worst-timed giveaway by a Minnesota player this season, turning over the puck that was scored for the eventual game-winning goal in Vegas. It wasn’t great and he was getting a little bit of an unfair callout by this fan base.
I think he heard everyone, because he continued to do what he does best.
Yeah, it’s a hit and not necessarily one that had an effect on the game, but it still kicked ass.
Dumba played an alright game from front to back as well; finishing with four shots on goal, nine shot attempts and was on the ice for more Wild attempts than those that came from the Sharks.
3 — The Wild picked up the pace and controlled the play way too late.
For a small chunk of the game, the Wild ran with every chance they had and just laid the rubber on Reimer.
Honestly, they were unlucky to not score during this sequence book-ending the second intermission — and they were even more unlucky to have the Sharks score their momentum-killing fourth goal of the game. Sometimes it just works out like that, but it is also easier for the Wild to get offense when they’re down by multiple goals and with time ticking down (ah, score effects) and maybe the Sharks just let their foot off the gas a little bit, especially considering that they were in control for so damn long.
4 — It’s early to look at the standings, but...
Ahead of the 4-1 loss at home, the Wild were at the top of the Central and feeling very good (I assume). But now with these two points taken away from them and an albeit still very good 10-5-0 record, there is a cause for potential future concern. The Winnipeg Jets are ahead of them now and although the Nashville Predators are overperforming their projection and the St. Louis Blues are just there, the Colorado Avalanche will certainly be way better than their current 6-5-1 record and sixth spot in the division.
Could the Wild be heading down a slippery slope if the percentages don’t work their way into their favor? Well, yeah probably. In their next 10 games, they will be facing the Tampa Bay Lightning twice, the Florida Panthers, and the two best Canadian teams in the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers. Unless everything goes their way, we could be looking at a .500 Minnesota team before the holiday season. I hope to be wrong and just in a pessimistic mood.