Welcome back to Toup’s Takes. Life has been crazy busy lately but now that things have started to calm down so I can get back to this. What a run by the Wild lately. Even with the losses to Colorado (more on that later) we have a pretty good idea of where this team slots in so far in the West Division. There has been a lot of fun hockey the last couple of weeks. Let’s dive in!
A major reason that the Wild are having as much success as they are has of course been the play of Kirill Kaprizov. He has been nothing short of sensational so far this season, and his numbers definitely back that up. Kaprizov is 1st in points among rookies with 25, 1st in goals among rookies with 10, and 1st in assists among rookies with 15. We all hoped he would be able to come in and eventually be an impact player. He has done so from day 1. Not only the production, but Kaprizov just makes so many winning plays every time he touches the puck. Once he gets some more help (either in the form of Marco Rossi or some free agent additions) Kaprizov should fully ascend to McDavid/MacKinnon level, he’s gonna be THAT good.
But for as good as Kaprizov has been, another rookie has really helped solidify things in net. Kaapo Kahkonen is showing people he deserves to be a starter in the NHL. And his rookie campaign finds him among the leaders in several goalie stats among rookies. Check this out:
We knew he could dominate based on his numbers in Iowa, but Kahkonen really took off when Cam Talbot was injured and has played well enough to warrant a share of the starts the rest of the season. His play this year has been every bit as important as Kaprizov’s this season. It’s hard to get the same recognition though when playing on the same team as Dolla Bill Kirill.
Rocky Mountain Sigh
The Wild were certainly humbled by the Avalanche in their most recent 2 game set. This understandably caused a wide range of reaction from fans. But we shouldn’t lose hope based off of a 2 game series. Did the Wild get outclassed by the Avalanche? Yes. Are the Wild clearly better than several teams in the division? Also yes. We knew heading into the season that the team was a year or two from seriously competing, but with how they have played so far this year they may have accelerated their window.
Currently tied for 3rd place in the West, the Wild have shown they are clearly better than the Coyotes, Ducks, Sharks and Kings. They will have the chance to finally play the Blues coming up, and at that point we will know where they stand among the top 4 in the division. I understand the “life or death” feel of sports sometimes, but I’m not willing to jump ship just because of 2 off games. The Avalanche are better, but that doesn’t mean the Wild should just fold up and fire everybody.
It looks as though Marcus Johansson is ready to return for the Wild:
Matt Dumba, on the other hand may be a little further away after he was injured back on Friday.
Unfortunately it looks like Marcus Foligno won’t be back anytime soon…
And that is all we have for this week. The Wild have a great chance to bounce back, and I think they will.