Every week, the NHL honors three stars, players who outperformed their peers over the prior seven days. It's a distinction that has a strong correlation to production: score a lot of points, stop a lot of pucks, and you put yourself in the running.
Mikko Koivu was named the NHL's Third Star on Monday on the strength of eight points in three games last week. Those numbers are nice, but it's everything else Koivu does, much of which will be on display Monday against the Dallas Stars, that tells the full story of the Wild's captain.
"We always look at points, and goals, and assists," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "But what you don't factor into that is how many goals that they prevent as well."
Mikko Koivu was named the NHL's Third Star for the week of Monday, December 14.
In three games last week, Koivu totaled three goals and five assists. He put together consecutive multi-point games against the Vancouver Canucks (1-3=4) and New York Rangers (2-1=3) before finishing his week with an assist against the Nashville Predators.
Koivu also won 40 of the 61 faceoffs he took, going 65.6% on draws. His three goals were scored on six shots on goal, giving him a shooting percentage of 50.
NASHVILLE -- Amid its longest point streak of the season, the issues the Minnesota Wild addresses going into games can be viewed as luxuries.
Don't get complacent, keep things in perspective, and try to keep what has ballooned into a nine-game point streak (6-0-3) rolling into the Christmas break, with three games separating the Wild and its time off.
"We're finding different ways to win, so it's not to get too high, not to get too low," Jason Pominville said. "It's trying to be consistent, and trying to keep improving. You never want to be satisfied, you want to be pushing for more, and we have a group of guys that are willing to do that."
It's been nine straight games for the Minnesota Wild having earned at least a point in each (6-0-3).
It's a stretch that's seen the Wild win in many ways: via shutouts, offensive outburst, and special teams performances.
None of that is especially relevant though when Head Coach Mike Yeo talks about the upcoming stretch of games before the Christmas break. The Wild plays the Nashville Predators on Saturday, and then a back-to-back Monday and Tuesday against the Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens.
Welcome to winter.
To mark the winter solstice, the Wild will be hosting a Winter White Out at Xcel Energy Center on Monday, Dec. 21 when they host the Dallas Stars.
Jarret Stoll will make his Minnesota Wild debut on Thursday, and any unfamiliarity he has skating with a new team may be trumped by the familiarity of one across the ice.
Stoll and the Wild will host the New York Rangers at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild claimed Stoll off waivers from the Rangers on Tuesday. He didn't have to wait long to get a crack at his former team.
"The only thing that's strange is how quick it is," Stoll said. "You do play against your former team unless you're fortunate enough to be with the same organization. But this close, the first game within two days of being on the New Rangers, that's going to be a little weird and a little different."
A new face arrived in the Minnesota Wild locker room just as a familiar one readies to return to the ice.
Head Coach Mike Yeo said Devan Dubnyk, returning from a groin injury, will start in goal on Thursday night against the New York Rangers – the same team the newest member of the Wild, Jarret Stoll, was on the roster for at the beginning of the week.
“I knew the road trip was coming up this week and I knew when we were flying to Minnesota and I had a chuckle about it for sure,” Stoll said. “A lot of the guys on the Rangers have been texting already. An ‘I’ll see you tomorrow’ type of thing, so it is what it is. I’m just excited … to get started here.”
During the Minnesota Wild's current current seven-game point streak (4-0-3) the defensive style that has defined the Wild's game the past few seasons has been back at the forefront.
The key for the Wild now as it heads into a game on Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks is finding its scoring touch, so long as it doesn't come at the expense of the recent defensive gains.
"We're just playing simpler hockey, and we're being a bit more patient than we were in the past," Jared Spurgeon said. "Obviously defense is the big thing on our team right now, but we don't want to give stuff up just to try to score one more goal. We're ok with playing 2-1 games, and everyone in this room is comfortable doing that."
After considering signing forward Jarret Stoll this summer, Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said when he got a second chance at Stoll, "we just grabbed him."
The Wild claimed Stoll off waivers on Tuesday from the New York Rangers, and Fletcher said the right-shot center known for his faceoff prowess will be a good fit for the Wild.
"We haven't had one of those in a few months," Fletcher said. "It's the right time to add a player. Losing some of the guys last summer — [Chris Stewart] and [Kyle Brodziak] in particular — we lost some veteran depth."
Devan Dubnyk was upbeat after Minnesota Wild practice on Monday, his second time back on the ice with his teammates since sustaining a groin injury Dec. 5.
He's getting closer to getting back into a game, but on Tuesday, Darcy Kuemper will make his fourth consecutive start, and Dubnyk will be the backup against the Vancouver Canucks.
"He probably needs another day, but regardless, we were going to come back with [Kuemper] tomorrow anyway," Head Coach Mike Yeo said.