The Minnesota Wild treated the Dallas Stars to a warm welcome at The X — by kicking them out the door via a 7-2 win. Here’s the 4 Things from that game:
1 — Victor Rask did more than enough to earn another chance.
Before last night, Rask was sitting up in the press box for four consecutive games, munching on popcorn and probably being horrified at how the Wild looked like down on the ice. It wasn’t pretty and even if the team came out of that slump 2-2-0, there was certainly something that needed to be changed. Evason took that to heart, unveiled some lines and put Rask back with his buddy Kirill to hopefully spark some of that magic from last season.
And it kind of worked.
Rask looked damn good last night. Whether it was making smart defensive reads or scoring weird ass lob goals, Victor was all over the ice and rejuvenated that chemistry with Kaprizov. It might not be a permanent solution, but when this team needs a jolt of energy or something just to change it up, Rask can play with some skill. Maybe we should get out of our own way when talking about the player and just enjoy it when he’s playing really well. He has a poor reputation around this fan base, but at least he can play right now. If this goes on for too long and there’s a streak of bad performances, at least there’s precedent that Evason isn’t afraid to scratch him.
2 — Yeah, Kirill Kaprizov is back.
Kaprizov has been stuck in the mud a little bit. With his new contract in hand, we all expected a massive sophomore season and for him to lead the Wild in just about every individual offensive category — the season didn’t start out that way, even if this team was able to get some wins and some timely goals (eventually) from their star.
Well, throw that concern out of the window because Kirill is officially back.
He’s just so damn good!
And look at this goal!
Highlight after highlight from last night, Kaprizov finished the game with a goal and three assists. Even if only two of his six shot attempts forced Anton Khudobin to make a save, he posed a massive threat every time he entered the zone with the speed and tenacity to create something.
With three of the next four games being against a true championship contender (Lightning, Panthers, Jets; oh my) the Wild will really need to rely on offense from every line and not just letting their stars take a night off. I’m not wishing for every game to be The Kirill Show but just more often that it has been this season.
3 — Does Alex Goligoski mean that the Wild made the right decision with the Ryan Suter buyout? No, but sort of.
I’m extremely petty, so when I see the storyline of Ryan Suter returning to Minnesota and eyeing the secondary competition of Suter against his replacement in Alex Goligoski, I get a little pep in my step heading to the couch. Anytime this organization can be proven that they made the right call, it’s just a nice little bonus to any victory, and considering that Goligoski scored a goal and Suter did not, then I will hang up my fresh, new, and shiny plaque on my wall that “The Wild Did A Good Thing Signing Goligoski To Replace The Slow Suter.”
Now, of course one game doesn’t mean a thing, but Suter was one the ice for three goals against and just one for the Stars; while Goligoski was out there for five Wild goals and just one from the opposition. I’m going to dust off my hands and determine that it was a job well done.
4 — Riley Tufte scratched just an hour before the game, and after he spent all his money on tickets for his friends and family. Yikes.
It has nothing to do with the Wild’s performance on the ice, but there is only so much you can talk about when everyone seemed to play a very good game and they took advantage of a poor opponent. They won, like won by a lot; what do you want me to do about it?
Anyway, on the other side of the ice, there was a significant absence. Riley Tufte was set to play his first NHL game in his home state of Minnesota and just a speedy 30-minute drive down the 10 from his hometown of Coon Rapids. Before the game, he was so excited to see all his friends and family wearing all his different jerseys — who he emptied his bank account for, and then also relied on the generosity of friend Nick Bjugstad to bring other members of his family on his dime — but that was before he was scratched by coach Rick Bowness.
Tufte was Minnesota Mr. Hockey in 2016, playing his high school hockey at Blaine and spent three years at the University of Minnesota-Duluth before making his professional debut. He’s one dude that has breathed Minnesota Hockey for the 23 years he’s called it home, and the chance to play in front of his home crowd was taken away from him. It just seems evil. Especially considering that the Stars aren’t that good and even if he would have made their team slightly worse, then the stories and making your players happy, should be worth it.