If you wanted to watch one performance that gave you the warm and comfortable feeling that the Minnesota Wild can realistically improve on last year’s record-breaking regular season, then tonight’s 3-0 win against the Chicago Blackhawks was perfect.
Despite having to kill off six penalties and only having three power play opportunities, the Wild outshot the Blackhawks 27-9, and controlled play for almost the entire game. It was just pure domination led by an excellent defensive effort that transitioned up the ice into their own offense. Matt Boldy, Ryan Hartman, Brandon Duhaime, and Connor Dewar were the only point-earners with one each, but it was just that type of game.
To open the scoring, we were treated to something that feels inevitable every other penalty kill. Connor Dewar showed off his ability to get his stick in passing lanes and pressure the blue line enough while shorthanded, to get some scoring chances and some breakaway goals. Well, he did that again tonight.
GOAL! Connor Dewar keeps on being a shorthanded menace. scores on the breakaway. 1-0 MIN. pic.twitter.com/8RVf81U1B3— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 3, 2022
Dewar kept on being everywhere on the penalty kill — since Minnesota did have to kill 12 minutes worth of penalties — even after he was rewarded for it.
After this second period goal, there was not a whole lot going on for either team. The Wild obviously just kept on piling on the pressure and making it look like it was even strength when they were playing shorthanded. Just utter domination carrying through the majority of the game.
And finally, in the third, the scoring opened up once again. And once again, it was on the penalty kill where the Wild got a goal.
After a powerful shift from Ryan Hartman on the shorthanded forecheck, pinning the Chicago player away from the puck, he left it for Matt Boldy, who then passed it back to Hartman for an attempt, and the other dude got the rebound.
Now with a 2-0 lead, there was a little bit more confidence that the Wild will finish as the victors, and not have a random Blackhawks goal ruin the whole damn thing. So, just in case, Brandon Duhaime just went to score a solo effort goal for the third and clinching goal of this game.
GOAL! OH MY GOD DUHAIME. BEAUTIFUL. 3-0 MIN. pic.twitter.com/nZvAF5Rfhb— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) October 3, 2022
That was the final nail for the coffin that would end up being one of the more one-sided games this preseason. They should have probably just forfeited it and gave any Chicago fan in Milwaukee their money back.
Next up, the Wild visit the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday in their third-last preseason game and keep their perfect record.
Will Petan look out of place?
Nic Petan — simply — looked like he belonged. It certainly helped having two of the best two-way players in the entire NHL as linemates, but Petan held his own when it came to generating scoring chances and playing at the same level as Foligno and Eriksson Ek. Whenever those two would come crashing in on the forecheck, Petan would be there to pick up the pieces and take advantage of the open ice created.
This isn’t to say that he will be guaranteed that spot — especially considering that Tyson Jost and Sam Steel have most impressed a little bit more than Petan — but he can certainly hang around for a while longer and could be on the final roster as a depth option.
Can we see more of Carson Lambos?
Lambos popped off the screen more than his previous appearances. Maybe it was just the comfortability with an extended training camp, or the fact that he felt unthreatened facing such a bad NHL team, but he was being very active in the defensive zone and showed off his agility in transition.
He didn’t earn any points or have any major highlights, but he impressed enough to not make us worry before he goes back to playing junior hockey.
Can the special teams streak continue?
Perfect, no question. They didn’t score on the power play but somehow had two shorthanded goals. The most Minnesota Wild ass special teams you could imagine. The special teams ratio is still tilted in their favor.