One hundred fifty-three days later, we are back in action in Minnesota as the Wild take on the New York Rangers in St. Paul.
Returning with much of the same lineup as last year, the Minnesota Wild looked to start the season hot and build off of the previous, successful campaign. With the help of exciting young forwards like Marco Rossi and Sam Steel, the Wild hoped to make up for lost production due to the exit of Kevin Fiala. At the same time, newcomer defenseman Calen Addison will try to help stiffen up the defense in front of Marc-Andre Fleury.
The game started poorly for the Wild when Matt Boldy took a tripping penalty a few minutes into the game when Matt Boldy took a tripping penalty. The Rangers wasted no time as Mika Zibanejad found Chris Kreider wide open in front of an open net to give the Rangers the early 1-0 lead. TThe Wild controlled most of the action throughthe first ten minutes of play, However, the star players from New York were able to take advantage on the special teams.
Following the ten-minute mark in the period, the Wild earned a penalty of their own. The first unit peppered Ranger goaltender Igor Shesterkin with shots, but the netminder stood tall.
The second unit got out there and looked like they did for most of last year, aimless and ineffective at times. Ryan Hartman took a lousy penalty behind the play ending the Wild's man advantage and sending the play to 4-on-4.
Despite their efforts, the Rangers struck again as Artemi Panarin connected with Alexis Lafrenière, who found Adam Fox in the slot to beat Fleury. The woes weren't over; with 12 seconds left, Lafrenière found Panarin in the slot, who quickly slid the puck past Fleury, who appeared to be struggling to see the puck. Although the Wild seemed to control the play and won the shots-on-goal battle, the Rangers took a 3-0 lead into the dressing room after the first.
The second period started similar to the first, as Hartman took another ill-advised hook against Panarin to put the Rangers back on the powerplay. Thankfully, the Wild were able to kill this one off.
After what felt like forever, the Wild were able to find some life. Kirill Kaprizov put the puck on Mats Zuccarello's tape, who made no mistake, beating Shesterkin's high blocker on the powerplay to cut the Ranger's lead to 3-1.
1️⃣st goal of the season:— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) October 14, 2022
3️⃣6️⃣ via 9️⃣7️⃣#mnwild pic.twitter.com/ccuPGPZWYU
Following the goal, the Wild were able to draw a 5-on-3. The boys in green couldn't find a goal, but the momentum began to shift in the Wild's favor. Shesterkin stood on his head and showed Wild fans exactly why he is the reigning Vezina trophy winner.
Just as things started to look better, Filip Chytil found a rebound to put past Fleury to put the Rangers back up three.
The second ended just as the first did, with the Rangers up three.
Unfortunately for Wild fans, the team brought little hope as Vincent Trocheck scored four minutes in on a one-timer. The defensive play was poor, but Fleury let in his fifth goal on his 23rd shot to make it 5-1. It is safe to assume the 38-year-old netminder wasn't completely ready to start the season.
To keep the fans in it, Matt Boldy scored on a rebound in front of the net as he made a nice move to wait out Shesterkin to put the Wild back within three. THowever, themomentum only lasted briefly,as Kaapo Kakko beat Fleury and put the Rangers back up by four. Dean Evason decided to keep Fleury in the game, clearly having trust issues with his backup, Filip Gustavsson.
matt boldy, a wizard around the net scores and makes it 5-2! pic.twitter.com/76XIWPnBvg— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 14, 2022
Matt Boldy, putting the Wild's hopes on his back, put together another unreal move on Shesterkin to bring the game to 6-3 with around 14 minutes late. Barring a quick goal,however, it may be too little too late.
We love a good Boldy goal (or two) #mnwild pic.twitter.com/iCHBmWppAV— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) October 14, 2022
In an effort to get the boys going, Marcus Foligno picked a fight with Ryan Reaves. Despite involving the two heavyweights, the fight was somewhat anticlimactic as few punches were landed, and it ended in a draw. Despite his efforts, the Wild surrendered a goal by K'andre Miller immediately after to basically end the game.
The Wild ended the game down 7-3. Honestly, they didn't look as bad as the score suggests. One area of concern after the first game is goaltending. Fleury did not look good, letting in seven goals on only 35 shots, including three on the first eight. The team never had a chance. Whether that can be entirely blamed on The Flower or the defense for leaving him out to dry is up for debate. However, it is undeniable that the Wild need to figure out how to keep the puck out of their net before their next game against LA on Saturday,
Who steps up to fill in for Kevin Fiala?
Two words, Matt Boldy. Arguably the key to Fiala's success last season, Boldy was phenomenal tonight. He looked great all over the ice with two goals to show for his effort. Unfortunately, Rossi, Duhaime, and Dewar did little to nothing on the fourth line to back the young gun up. Hopefully, Greenway can get back in a hurry to allow Tyson Jost to slide into the second or fourth line and help the offense be a little more than a one-line unit + Boldy.
How do the new guys look?
Okay, at best. For Addison, being part of a group that allowed seven goals is nothing to ride home about, regardless of how much can be put on Fleury's shoulders. As far as Duhaime and Dewar are concerned, they were unnoticeable at best; aside from an odd-man rush, they managed to fumble into the corner on the penalty kill. Tyson Jost did look good, playing with Eriksson Ek and Foligno. It'll be interesting to see how he can do either on the second or fourth line once Greenway returns.