Minnesota Wild Win Streak

Will Schiffler, Contributor

After multiple impressive moves by General Manager Bill Guerin, the Minnesota Wild have played great hockey. Minnesota addressed goaltending, depth, and physical toughness during the trade deadline, which has proven successful thus far. Currently, the Wild sit in second place in the Central Division with three points of separation between the St. Louis Blues, who they play on April 8. The Wild have won nine of their last ten games, with their only loss occurring in overtime against the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

During their impressive ten-game run, Minnesota found themselves a new franchise leader in points in a season. The highly anticipated prospect drafted in the fifth round of the 2015 draft has captured the record with 13 games remaining on the season. Kirill Kaprizov this season has been living up to the extensive contract the Wild signed him to this offseason. Minnesota signed Kaprizov to a five-year 45 million dollar contract after playing only 55 regular-season games.

After his Calder Trophy season, Kirill played as well as anyone in the National Hockey League. Kaprizov has scored 40 goals and 87 points in 68 games this season. Since March 1, Kirill has 24 points in 19 games, vital to the Wild’s impressive play. Marian Gaborik was the previous holder of most points in a season with 83 points. Kirill is now on the chase to capture the most goals scored in a regular season, held by Eric Staal and Marian Gaborik at 42 goals. Kaprizov has 40 goals on the season with 13 games remaining to beat the record. 

Kaprizov is not the only Wild player having an exceptional season; Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Fiala have been right up there with Kirill on the scoring sheet. Zuccarello has tallied 71 points for the Wild in 61 games while playing on a line with Kaprizov all season. The emergence of Kevin Fiala came about right when he started playing on a line with rookie Matthew Boldy. Fiala struggled to start the season with only eight points in the first 14 games. After a rough start on the year for a tremendous player, Fiala has been able to still score 23 goals, and 61 points in 69 games played this season. 

Besides the tremendous play by the Wild’s offense, they have also seen their goalies play tremendously. Goalies Marc-André Fleury and Cam Talbot have only allowed 16 goals combined during the ten games where the Wild went 9-0-1. Since the acquisition of Fleury, the Wild arguably have the best two goalies on one roster than any other team in the NHL. Not only has the team responded well to Fleury joining Minnesota, but the State of Hockey is appreciating his presence even more. Fleury’s games have resulted in bouquets of flowers being thrown on the ice by Wild fans because of his nickname “Flower.” The one-two punch of Minnesota has made the Wild a serious Stanley Cup contender this Spring. 

Besides the tremendous play by the Wild’s offense, they have also seen their goalies play tremendously

Minnesota looks to continue its road trip against two playoff teams, the Nashville Predators and the St. Louis Blues. Nashville currently sits nine points behind the Wild and, as of now, will be a wild card team in the playoffs. St. Louis sitting only three points behind the Wild make it a must-win game for Minnesota to help secure home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. Minnesota has only played one game against the Blues this season, the Winter Classic, where the Wild lost at Target Field 6-4 on an impeccably cold night. 

For the foreseeable future, Minnesota will depend on their depth to get them through the remainder of the regular season. With seven reliable defensemen on the roster and 14 forwards, Minnesota should be able to start resting older guys to prepare them for a deep playoff run that will be challenging both physically and mentally. 

With the recent injury to Matthew Boldy, we should see the Wild be very cautious with his return since they are sitting comfortably in a playoff spot and are 15 points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the top spot of the Central Divison. The State of Hockey is ready for their team to make a run for their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.