Minnesota Wild in do-or-die situation after scoreless Game 5


Alex Sharp, Contributor

The Minnesota Wild have to bounce back to continue in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a difficult 4-0 loss to the Stars yesterday. The win from the Stars puts them one game away from advancing to the next round, meaning the Wild have to win two in a row if they want to survive. 

Wild had some young leaders this year in Matt Boldy and Kirill Kaprizov, however, with a combined 1 goal, they are looking for better production out of the players who led them to this playoff berth. In fact, Defenseman Jake Middleton said “You can say at some point they single-handedly got us here.” Kaprizov scored his only goal in the first period of Game 1 and has been scoreless since. Boldy, with 0 goals and 3 assists, has been producing, but counter those three assists with a plus-minus of -2, you can see that his performance is far from perfect. If Boldy and Kaprizov continue to be nonfactors, it may be difficult for the Wild to get those back-to-back wins they need to close out the series. It’s also the first time in his career that Kaprizov has gone four games in a row without netting a single point. With performances like this, the Wild are going to need a miracle to win this series.

The Wild and their young roster have struggled to put the puck in the net all series, sans a 5-goal performance in game 3. Dallas has 17 combined goals in the series, while Minnesota has 11. And the miracle that they need is being blocked by the unwavering performances in goal for the Stars. Solid goaltending from Minnesota native Jake Oettinger has helped propel the Stars to their lead as he recorded his first shutout of the 2023 playoffs yesterday. He was one of the stars of the playoffs last year as well when in Game 7 of Round 1, he made 64 saves, the second-highest save tally in NHL playoff history. He was dubbed  “bar none, the first star of the first round” by The Hockey News and led all goaltenders with a .954 save percentage in the first round. With his current save percentage in the series with the Wild at .925, he’s looking to repeat last year’s stellar performance, unless the young scorers of the Wild have something to say about it.

Former Gopher hockey Captain Brock Faber is certainly enjoying his first playoff series, however. With a plus-minus of +3 and a time on ice per game of roughly 14 minutes, he’s been making the most of his shifts. 

When asked about the next steps for the Wild after Game 5, Wild coach Dean Evason said they are taking the games one by one, and that spirits are still high. “It’s 3-2 right?” he said. “It’s not like it’s 3 nothing. We’re in a real good spot… we knew this was going to be a tight series, and it is. We have the opportunity now in our home building to win one game and even the series.” He also mentioned that there is “no question” that you have to be desperate when in a spot like this. But with desperation comes grit. From a fan standpoint, it’s less now about the skill of the two squads facing off and about who wants it more. Who is willing to fight for the chance to win the Stanley Cup – and considering the Wild have never won before, fans would like to hope that it will be them moving on. The clock is ticking for the Minnesota Wild, and when Friday comes around, fans will be watching tentatively to see if they can get the win.