THE WILD WIRE - #1Oct 9, 2018
For the first time in team history, the Iowa Wild earned a sweep on opening weekend!
As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, that makes me extremely happy for our great fan base, especially our Wild 365 Season Ticket Holders who spend their hard-earned money to watch this team compete.
Here are a couple of quick takeaways from opening weekend:
- “Be the aggressor” – that’s one of the things Head Coach Tim Army stressed going into the weekend – he talked about attacking the “teeth” of the opposing team’s defense and playing with speed and I think it’s fair to say the Wild accomplished that this weekend. They were able to break the puck out efficiently during large stretches of the two games against the Moose and with the talent on this roster, those clean exits allowed them to attack the Manitoba defense with speed and puck support. When I think of “be the aggressor,” I also think about a team that’s dictating the play or tempo of a game. Doing that consistently throughout the season will help Iowa keep pace amongst the Central Division’s elite.
- SPECIAL Teams – how’s this for a quick start for both specialty teams’ groups:
- Power Play: 4/10
- Penalty Kill: 9/9
Last season the Wild power play went 0-for-20 in their first four games, while the PK gave up four goals in that span. Special teams play can be a difference-maker some nights. It’s like making your free throws in basketball or getting a great outing from your starting pitcher in baseball. It doesn’t always equal success, but boy does it help when you’re winning those small battles within the game. In addition, the Wild notched a shorthanded goal in Friday’s 4-1 win.
On top of getting off to a great start to the season, the Wild will get two additions to their lineup this week, as Luke Kunin and Will Bitten have made their way to town.
I don’t think I need to elaborate much on Kunin. The former first-round draft pick has all the talent in the world and the compete level to match. He’s recovering from a torn ACL (suffered at the NHL level late last season) and was recently cleared for contact. He’ll join the team in time for practice Tuesday and provides an instant boost for however long he’s in Iowa. I’m sure there’ll be some rust to his game, since he hasn’t played in a game since March, but that shouldn’t matter much to a kid with his ability. Give him a few games and he should be fine. If I’m not mistaken he didn’t even have surgery until April, which puts him ahead of schedule for most ACL rehabs.
As for Bitten, he’s the player Minnesota recently acquired from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for defenseman Gustav Olofsson. Bitten is just 20-years-old and can play both center and wing. His addition to the Iowa roster could mean that Colton Beck shifts back to his more natural position of wing. The Ottawa native played in Hamilton of the OHL the last two seasons, potting at least 20 goals in both campaigns.
Considering winger Landon Ferraro left Sunday’s game with an injury, the additions of Kunin and Bitten certainly provide a considerable amount of depth (and talent) at a good time. Both players can jump right into the team’s “process” this week, get in a few practices, and potentially be in the lineup Friday night when the Wild host the Texas Stars at 7 pm.
- Wild Joe Radio