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  • Wild Weekly Preview: October 17th-23rd Edition


    Two games in, new Minnesota Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau is already holding his players accountable. Down 2-0 to Winnipeg a period into the club's home debut, the Wild came roaring back Saturday night, scoring four straight goals before the Jets came back within one late in the third. Matt Dumba, Chris Stewart, Eric Staal and Jonas Brodin all scored their firsts of the season, while Stewie also added an assist and a bout for his fourth career Gordie Howe hat trick - twice as many as Gordie ever had.

    This Week's Schedule

    Tuesday, October 18th - Minnesota Wild vs Los Angeles Kings 7:00 PM CT (FS-N, FS-WI, FS-W)

    Thursday, October 20th - Minnesota Wild vs Toronto Maple Leafs 7:00 PM CT (FS-N, FS-WI, TSN4)

    Saturday, October 22nd - Minnesota Wild @ New Jersey Devils 6:00 PM CT (MSG+, FS-N, FS-WI)

    Sunday, October 23rd - Minnesota Wild @ New York Islanders 5:00 PM CT (MSG+, FS-N, FS-WI)

    Game/Key Opponent(s) of the Week

    There's just one game versus the West this week, but it's not our Hockey Wilderness GOTW. No, that honor belongs to the Auston Matthews-powered Toronto Maple Leafs.

    Matthews isn't the only high profile young gun on the Leafs' roster, but he sure is the best, which he proved to the entire hockey universe with an unparalleled four-goal statement in his NHL debut last week. Not since the New York Rangers' Derek Stepan popped three biscuits in the basket in his debut has a rookie done anything close, and no one has scored four in their first career game in the league's modern era. That's right, San Jose's Tomas Hertl waited four games before scoring as many goals on Rangers goalie Martin Biron a few years back.

    As anyone can imagine, after such an outstanding debut, all eyes will be on the 2016 first overall pick. A big 6'3" 200-plus pound pivot, Matthews' birth date disqualified him from the 2015 draft by just two days - a draft in which many thought he might have upstaged Jack Eichel for second overall. With Eichel now out weeks with an injury, Matthews and 2015 first overall pick Connor McDavid are leading the NHL's youth movement, and Matthews comes flanked by superbly talented young wingers in William Nylander and Mitch Marner. Yes, this terrible trio has Toronto fans more than a little optimistic, and they have good reason to be. Matthews is the obvious guy to watch this week, but don't go to sleep on Nylander and Marner.

    Key Player of the Week

    Minnesota has never been a real gritty team in the Chuck Fletcher era, but that's changing under Boudreau, Stewart and defensive coach Scott Stevens.

    Let's be clear, Stewart is far from the perfect player. He makes mistakes. A lot of them. However, in him, the Wild coaching staff has a player it can insert at any spot in the lineup, which is a valuable commodity for a new coach looking to roll four competitive lines. Whether it's a bottom-six energy guy, a net-front specialist on the power play or the third component of a top-six scoring line, Stewie can contribute, and is a much-loved character in the locker room.

    Chris Stewart is a glue guy. Glue guys make for tighter teams, and tighter teams win championships. That at least served as the line of reasoning behind his signing this off-season. Two games in, he's played a big role in a positive way, so that has to count for something, right?

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