Matt Boldy, take a bow.
The Minnesota Wild rookie was already having a stellar season by the standards of a 21-year-old that was recovering from a minor injury and took some time to get to speed in the AHL, but this is just a whole different level. Against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night — a night for love, for which I can say that I love watching the Wild win hockey games — Boldy was able to score his first career hat trick in a four-point showing of dominance.
Before, we were kind of joking that he should win the Calder Trophy, but... maybe he should win the Calder Trophy.
The Red Wings took a 2-0 lead very early in the game and I was actually concerned whether or not the Wild would be able to get out of this one, if they fell into a hole too early. But what am I talking about? We have good players. So Boldy just went ahead and scored the fourth goal of his season off a feed from none other than Kevin Fiala.
This is just such an impressive goal. Most players, if they had their back to goal, would try and just simply protect the puck with their body, or try to look for a pass, but Boldy thinks of the improbable. The way he can stickhandle his way through any defensive coverage, almost acting like a small forward in the post, inching his way closer to the target and eventually getting rid of that defender through agility and physicality — and then Boldy just completely hocks it over Alex Nedeljkovic. It is just such an impressive play and really demonstrates how well he thinks of the game and what he can pull off at the top level.
And, as you can tell by our tweets of the goals, the second happened just minutes after, Boldy scoring a brace just over eight minutes into the entire game.
Boldy can just simply score in multiple ways. An all-around offensive talent and that was on display with a simple (not really simple) deflection goal on the power play to tie the game 2-2.
And just to make it a special night, Boldy notched the hat trick in the second period.
Three goals, three different ways.
And Boldy didn’t just finish this game with a hat trick either, as he was able to get an assist on a Joel Eriksson Ek tap-in as the Wild kept on making the distance between the two teams larger.
Boldy has now started his NHL career with seven goals and 14 points in 12 games so far. I’m not sure what your expectation was of him, but I know that I did not expect this level of production to happen this quickly. Of course, the Wild already have some very top-level offensive talent in Kirill Kaprizov, Kevin Fiala, and Mats Zuccarello, but to add another dynamic player to that mix, and to now make two lines extremely potent in the other team’s zone, is just adding more fuel to the Cup-contender fire. Now the lineup is fairly straight forward with two scoring lines and the other two lines to shut down the opponent by any means necessary, while also potentially scoring goals as well. Right now, it seems like the make-up is working perfectly.
Back to the game, Boldy wasn’t the only one scoring early and important goals, as Kaprizov notched his 21st(!) goal of the season to give them the lead that they didn’t look back from.
Add in an empty-netter from Kaprizov, and a full-strength goal late into the game by Ryan Hartman, and that’s a concoction to earn you a 7-4 win over Detroit.
With these two points, the Wild now own the fourth-best points percentage in the entire league, and only the Colorado Avalanche are above them in the Western Conference. While at one point it seemed like the Nashville Predators could get the upper hand on them, Minnesota utilized their numerous games in hand to overtake them. Now they’re three points ahead of Nashville to take the second spot in the division, and still with four games in hand. This team is good and they just keep on showing their worth.
Up next, the Wild are heading back north to face the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday, as Marcus Foligno makes his return to the ice from suspension to face the very team that he got physical with in the first place. This is going to be an entertaining one. The puck drop is at 6:00 p.m.
Can the Wild stay gritty without Dumba and Foligno?
Well, they certainly got a little handsy, but I want to discuss more at the attempted physicality from some players. Jordie Benn is meant to be this stabilizing force and to bring a different, harder dynamic to the blue line that they were missing with Ian Cole leaving in the summer. Well, I just don’t know how much longer this can go on. Benn was directly responsible for at least one goal against, and it looked brutal.
And to make everything worse, he completely blew it in his own zone yet again, giving the Red Wings a very good scoring chance.
I just don’t know what his ability to hit some dudes gives this team in terms of winning hockey games. If he does that multiple times against a non-playoff team, then what if Dumba (or some other defenseman) is out for a game in the playoffs? Is he going to cost the team the entire round in a must-win game because of the decision to play him over someone that can give you some offense like Calen Addison? Right now, Addison is out with an injury, so it’s more of the long-term approach and comparison I’m concerned about. It’s comparing apples and oranges, but sometimes oranges are just what you need and this apple is fairly rotten.
What will Kaprizov do tonight?
Well, he looked like his typical self and scored two goals while also adding an assist. He kicked ass, plainly.
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