Sometimes all it takes is seeing an old foe to get everybody on the same page again.
Maybe it was the facing the Chicago Blackhawks for the first time since the 2019-20 season, or perhaps it was seeing Marc-André Fleury — primarily responsible for the Minnesota Wild's playoff exit last year — in that red sweater. Whatever it was, the Wild were putting the puck in the net with fierce efficiency last night.
Marcus Foligno did his thing right away, starting with some physical play that earned him two minutes in the box for awkwardly tripping Seth Jones. It didn't take him long to make up for it by finishing a great feed from a pinching Calen Addison (the first of many great plays from him in the game).
addison ➡️ foligno ➡️ pic.twitter.com/iTszx3OggR— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 22, 2022
Having not played the Wild for a couple of seasons, Chicago hasn't had any experience with Kirill Kaprizov. Well, they got front-row seats last night, and he illustrated why he's likely to be a headache for years to come.
oh the pass by kaprizov pic.twitter.com/XdB0lfQS9v— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 22, 2022
The feed to Ryan Hartman — now on pace for 41 goals after last night's two-goal effort — put the Wild up by two, despite only putting five shots on the net. The former Chicago first-round pick was doubtful for tonight as he has been suffering from the stomach flu for a few days. It may have shown up on the bench as he looked like death warmed over, but it didn't show up on the ice, where he had two goals, four shots, seven-shot attempts.
ryan hartman, AGAIN! 3-0! pic.twitter.com/xXcbShMX0c— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 22, 2022
Eventually, we will need to discuss what the team does with Calen Addison, as with every passing game, he makes it harder and harder to justify keeping him out of the lineup. Jared Spurgeon is returning to the lineup, and Addison looks to be the odd-man-out. He made the most of it if this was his last game with the big club for a stretch.
Addison had a 79.64 xGF% — tops amongst defensemen — to go along with his assist on Hartman's first goal and this absolute piss missile;
4-0! calen addison chases fleury from the net with a rocket! pic.twitter.com/W7SBlDBkzb— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 22, 2022
The underrated part of all the young guns making quick contributions is the effect it has had on some of the more creative vets.
fiala threads the needle and creates an easy one for duhaime pic.twitter.com/NQTnPuN5rB— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 22, 2022
While Brandon Duhaime was on the beneficial end of that Kevin Fiala play, Matt Boldy is starting to show off some fantastic chemistry with 22. The two were weaving in and out, always aware of each other. Their line lead the Wild with a 75 xGF% at even-strength according to NaturalStatTrick.com.
After taking that 5-0 lead, the Wild were content with just playing keep-away in the Chicago zone until the clock ran out.
Unfortunately, Patrick Kane and Dylan Strome wouldn't let that happen and ruined Kappo Kähkönen's shutout bid with minutes to go.
curse you chicago for ruining kähkönen’s shutout pic.twitter.com/d4Fjqlfboc— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 22, 2022
The lack of the shutout wasn't an indictment of Kaapo's play, though. Chicago outshot the Wild 36-30 on the night, and Kaapo had to make some pretty big-time saves at opportune times.
All in all, a great win to build on tonight when they face Chicago again.
Can Boldy keep producing?
Without a point on the night, Boldy officially drops below a point-per-game. What a bust.
His line dominated Chicago and was the Wild’s best on the night. Boldy had some good looks and more importantly, created some for his linemates, especially Kevin Fiala. While the powerplay went 0/2 on the night, Boldy continues to show he belongs there.
Now he just needs to get two-points tonight to get back on track.
Can the Wild forwards keep streaking?
Fiala, Zuccarello and Kaprizov all managed to keep their streaks going. Fiala was the only one of the trio not to have a multi-point effort, but he had loads of chances. These three on a tear lately, combining for 26 points in the last six games (including one absence from Kirill).
You can’t stop them, you can only hope to contain them.
Can Kaapo keep hero mode activated?
Kähkönen stopped 35 of 36 and quietly kept that five-goal lead out of reach. He’s been the quiet hero of this recent stretch.