Well it looks like the Minnesota Wild have officially shaken off the rust.
With their highest scoring game of the year, the Wild showed a full 55-minute effort (we’ll get to it later) to torch the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 5-1. Kevin Fiala looked like a man-possessed, nabbing two goals and an assist and firing a team-high five shots on net. His line with Joel Eriksson Ek and Jordan Greenway kicked the Ducks all over the ice to the tune of a 80.59 xGF% as per Natural Stat Trick.
fiala passes up the hat-trick opportunity to keep this gorgeous play going. JEE finishes the play, wild are up 5-1! pic.twitter.com/ZeKDcpeS5z— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 21, 2021
I’m not saying that Fiala wasn’t the reason that line was so successful, but the tradition of Eriksson Ek and Greenway combining to become the best line on the ice continues.
Kirill Kaprizov got his first multi-point game since opening night, notching two assists, including this absolutely ridiculous no-look pass to setup Victor Rask;
kirill with the no-look pass to set rask up for the one-timer!— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 21, 2021
The man is a human highlight reel.
Mats Zuccarello also had a goal and an assist, giving him three points in the same amount of games. Kaapo Kähkönen had a solid night stopping 26/27 shots. Everything is coming together. Well, at least with some help from the posts.
and kaapo’s luck just keeps coming pic.twitter.com/dH11g06pS9— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 21, 2021
The Wild controlled play for the entire game, outside of the final five minutes of the second period, when the Ducks scored on a screened Kähkönen. They had hemmed the Wild in their own end for nearly two whole minutes up until the goal is scored.
it’s tough to stop what you can’t see ¯\_(ツ)_/¯— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 21, 2021
3-1 good guys pic.twitter.com/eenmtpEq7v
Fantastic game to build upon and it’s nice to see some of the players who have missed so much time get their names on the scoresheet.
How will Hartman look down the middle?
Hartman earned an increase in responsibility through his play in the last couple of games. But there is a good chance that he doesn’t get to hold onto it. He was practically invisible and his line with Zach Parise and Marcus Foligno was the worst for the Wild. When they were on the ice, they were out-shot 12-6 and a putrid 23 xGF%. I think his game is best suited for the wing. By only giving his line 9:25 TOI at 5v5 — the lowest of any line — I would think coach Dean Evason agrees with me.
Will the Wild continue their awful power play?
No! No, they won’t! It’s a miracle!
the wild put the puck on net and k-fed gets not only his 2nd goal of the game, but it was also a powerplay goal! pic.twitter.com/tPKscM8Ip6— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 21, 2021
After a failed powerplay at the beginning of the second, as is tradition, Evason changed up his powerplay strategy. He scrapped the PP units and just rolled with the normal lines. Simple, but really smart. At 5-on-5, the Wild’s top two lines typically control the play. Should be easier with one less opponent on the ice, no?
My guess is that Evason sticks with this for the time being.
Can Calen Addison play well enough to keep his spot?
For the third game in a row, Addison has played over 17 minutes. Truly incredible considering he is a 20 year old and is being asked to play some of the toughest minutes on the team. While he has been largely unnoticeable, that’s a best case scenario. If he was playing over his head, you would notice the costly mistakes.
I don’t expect him to keep his spot, but that will most likely boil down to cap reasons. But he absolutely has shown that he belongs and if he re-joins the Iowa Wild, I look forward to seeing him dominate lesser competition.
The Wild make the trip up north to face the San Jose Sharks on Monday night. Puck drop is at 9:30 p.m. CT; put the coffee on.