The Spur

MN Wild look for traction

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Yes, the Super Bowl was on Sunday evening, Feb. 4, but the Vikings missed their chance to be in it. Friday and Saturday night the Minnesota Wild played back-to-back games against the Vegas Golden Knights and the Dallas Stars.

The Golden Knights are only in their first year as an expansion team, but they’ve maintained a position never more than a few rankings beneath the very top of the standings. On good weeks they stand alone as the team with the most points, but even on bad weeks the Golden Knights have won more games in an inaugural season than any other expansion team in the NHL’s 100 years, and it became official the night before they played in Minnesota. The Wild were forced to release forward Eric Haula to Vegas during the summer Expansion Draft, and Wild forward Jason Zucker is the only Las Vegas native playing in the NHL—though maybe not for much longer.

In any case, the Wild had reason to feel nervous about the game. No one will ever know if they did. They won 5-2 over the Golden Knights, extending their point-streak to ten games. Staal, Coyle, and Ennis combined for three unanswered goals by the end of the second period before former Wild player Haula tipped in a power play goal (PPG). Vegas’ goals were answered, as Spurgeon scored eleven seconds later to make it 4-1 in favor of Minnesota. Schmidt brought Vegas up to two goals, but on an open-net breakaway Staal was hooked, causing a penalty shot. Because there was no goalie, the Minnesota Wild were gifted the goal. 5-2 Wild after regulation. The Golden Knights lost for only their fourth time in regulation in 26 games.

By the end of Friday night, the Wild looked like they had regained some confidence. Parise and Coyle, out early in the season because of injury, are back and making instant contributions. On Saturday, however, the Wild fell to the Dallas Stars 6-1. Zucker scored Minnesota’s only goal of the night while goalie Kari Lehtonen gave a stellar 30-save performance for the Stars.

Minnesota currently sits in the second Wild Card spot on the standings, but only by a single game over Las Angeles and with an extra game played, after teir next contest Tuesday night, Feb. 6, at the St. Louis Blues. Minnesota won 6-2.

The Wild’s defensemen had combined for 123 points in 52 games before Tuesday—tied for League best by blueliners—but irregular possession time and offensive turnovers are a constant plague that’s hard to fix in-game. If Minnesota hopes to find another team making a playoff run there is work to be done by Wild forwards as a whole. Zucker and Staal, so far offering some scoring consistency, by themselves are not enough, and even two and a half months removed from the NHL postseason, a Stanley Cup Championship in Minnesota remains an impatient hope until everyone begins to contribute like years past.

Yes, the Super Bowl was on Sunday evening, Feb. 4, but the Vikings missed their chance to be in it. Friday and Saturday night the Minnesota Wild played back-to-back games against the Vegas Golden Knights and the Dallas Stars.

The Golden Knights are only in their first year as an expansion team, but they’ve maintained a position never more than a few rankings beneath the very top of the standings. On good weeks they stand alone as the team with the most points, but even on bad weeks the Golden Knights have won more games in an inaugural season than any other expansion team in the NHL’s 100 years, and it became official the night before they played in Minnesota. The Wild were forced to release forward Eric Haula to Vegas during the summer Expansion Draft, and Wild forward Jason Zucker is the only Las Vegas native playing in the NHL—though maybe not for much longer.

In any case, the Wild had reason to feel nervous about the game. No one will ever know if they did. They won 5-2 over the Golden Knights, extending their point-streak to ten games. Staal, Coyle, and Ennis combined for three unanswered goals by the end of the second period before former Wild player Haula tipped in a power play goal (PPG). Vegas’ goals were answered, as Spurgeon scored eleven seconds later to make it 4-1 in favor of Minnesota. Schmidt brought Vegas up to two goals, but on an open-net breakaway Staal was hooked, causing a penalty shot. Because there was no goalie, the Minnesota Wild were gifted the goal. 5-2 Wild after regulation. The Golden Knights lost for only their fourth time in regulation in 26 games.

By the end of Friday night, the Wild looked like they had regained some confidence. Parise and Coyle, out early in the season because of injury, are back and making instant contributions. On Saturday, however, the Wild fell to the Dallas Stars 6-1. Zucker scored Minnesota’s only goal of the night while goalie Kari Lehtonen gave a stellar 30-save performance for the Stars.

Minnesota currently sits in the second Wild Card spot on the standings, but only by a single game over Las Angeles and with an extra game played, after teir next contest Tuesday night, Feb. 6, at the St. Louis Blues. Minnesota won 6-2.

The Wild’s defensemen had combined for 123 points in 52 games before Tuesday—tied for League best by blueliners—but irregular possession time and offensive turnovers are a constant plague that’s hard to fix in-game. If Minnesota hopes to find another team making a playoff run there is work to be done by Wild forwards as a whole. Zucker and Staal, so far offering some scoring consistency, by themselves are not enough, and even two and a half months removed from the NHL postseason, a Stanley Cup Championship in Minnesota remains an impatient hope until everyone begins to contribute like years past.

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MN Wild look for traction