The 2022-23 NHL regular season is finally here. The Minnesota Wild finished a little shy of expectations in the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs and look to this season for a deeper playoff run.
Unfortunately, the first game did not go as the Wild had planned.
Opening the season at home against the New York Rangers, a young upstart that exceeded expectations last season, the Wild were soundly handled, never really getting into the game. Where did it all go wrong and does it compromise their NHL odds 2022?
3-0, Rangers #mnwild
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) October 14, 2022
How it Went
It didn’t take long for things to go off the rails for the Wild. Chris Kreider began his quest to his career-best 52-goal season from a year ago, striking for the first time on the season just a hair over four minutes into the game.
It didn’t get any better for the Wild from there. All was quiet for around 12 minutes before stud offensive defenseman Adam Fox put the Blueshirts up by a pair. With just 13 left in the first period and all the momentum on their side, the Rangers would go up by three thanks to Artemi Panarin’s first goal of the year. Worth noting is that he assisted on the first two goals, bringing his assist total up to three for the season.
The Wild showed a little life in the second thanks to a Mats Zuccarello power-play goal at the 7:45 mark. But the Rangers would recapture the momentum before the end of the session, seeing Filip Chytil tally his first of the year to put the Rangers up 4-1 heading into the third.
If there was any hope of a comeback, the Rangers stomp it out quickly. Newcomer Vincent Trocheck picked up his first as a Ranger just 4:18 into the third (Panarin picking up his third assist of the game), giving the Rangers a commanding 5-1 lead.
Matt Boldy, expected to see a big jump in responsibility this season, did manage to tally a pair of goals sandwiched around Kaapo Kakko’s first goal of the season, but it was too little, too late. Kreider would add his second of the night at the 14:07 mark to put the final nail in the Wild coffin.
➡️: NEW YORK RANGERS VS MINNESOTA WILD=7-3
➡️: the new york rangers win and go 2-0-0 (1st place in league) (1st place in division)
➡️: the minnesota wild lose and go 0-1-0 (27th place in league) (6th place in division)#NYR #MNWILD pic.twitter.com/swev5HjPNL
— AGH (@QuintenRommela1) October 14, 2022
So, now that we know how it went, it bears asking why it happened the way it did. There are a few explanations and takeaways from the night. Let’s get into them one by one.
The Rangers are good
Losing is never fun but there can be a little solace in knowing a good team beat you and the Rangers are just that. They are young all throughout their lineup, but as talented as they come. Panarin was a monster, racking up four points on the night (one goal and three assists). Kakko scored. Chytil scored. Kreider is coming off a 52-goal season and had a strong night.
The Rangers are coming off a run to the Eastern Conference Finals, unexpected as it was. They hope to take it to the next level this season and believe they have the pieces needed to do the job.
— Colin (@YesItsColin) October 14, 2022
It also doesn’t help matters that the Wild got off to a slow start. By the end of the first period, the game was already nearly out of reach at 3-0. Overcoming that kind of deficit is difficult against bad teams; when you play a club like the Rangers, it becomes virtually impossible. If the Wild want to walk away with the win, they can’t be so slow coming out of the gates.
Losing the turnover battle
Turnovers are crucial in any game. Turning the puck over can lead to not only direct offense, but stifle any momentum as well. The Wild lost the turnover battle 6-1, finding it difficult to maintain momentum or possession. Making sound decisions with the puck is the foundation of any good team and that was clearly lacking from the Wild in their opener.
Team defense was lacking
On the first two Ranger goals, the would-be goal scorer was left all alone at the side of the net for easy tap-ins. Marc-Andre Fleury is still a very good goalie, but even the best of the best can only do so much in situations like that. The Chytil goal also came because of traffic in front where he was able to gain separation.
The good thing is that this is just game one of 82. There is a lot of hockey left to be played and the Wild have a solid roster. They also have a few notable components that are different from last year, so finding their stride could take time.
Shoring up team defense and limiting turnovers will go a long way toward doing that. The Rangers are a good team, one that should be near the top of the Eastern Conference standings this year. It’s time to shake off the loss and move forward for the Wild.
Artemi Panarin had a goal and three assists for the New York Rangers in a 7-3 win against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.https://t.co/5wuB2ZWXjI
— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) October 14, 2022
Credits on Featured Image: Flickr.com/Commercial Use Allowed/Daniel Thornton