Weekly Lost & Found: Wild & Kings

There may be many changes coming as March, and the trade deadline, is here. In this, the 20th edition of the Weekly Lost & Found, we’re changing things up a bit. We’re going with just one team lost, and one team found. We stick with the Western Conference again this week. We’ll have a team from the Central Division, and Pacific Division, both in the playoff picture. Let’s get to it.

Lost: Minnesota Wild Lose Ground During Losing Streak

One of the most exciting teams in the NHL this season has hit a speedbump. The Wild have dropped six of their past 10 games, including three straight. In four games this past week, they scored 14 goals and allowed 17, seven of which came in a loss to the Pacific Division-leading Calgary Flames. They’ve dropped to third in the Central Division.

The numbers can help illuminate the tale for them over their past 10 games. They’ve struggled with face offs, having won 41.9% over that span, down from 47.4% on the year. They had a minus-3 goal differential, and while their power play was scoring at 26%, their penalty kill struggled mightily at 73%. 

They have averaged 3.40 goals-for per game over that span, which is on-par, as they’re one of the top teams in the league in that regard, averaging 3.72 goals-for per game. That comes on the back of their second-year superstar Kirill Kaprizov who leads the team with his 24 goals, 39 assists and 63 points in 49 games.

Kirill Kaprizov Minnesota Wild Winter Classic
Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota Wild superstar during the 2022 Winter Classic (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

Their goaltending has been struggling, but that could be partially due to the tandem having seen a lot of rubber; an average of 32.6 shots-against per game. However, they’ve been pretty dependable throughout the year. Cam Talbot and Kaapo Kahkonen have split the action 31-21 in favor of Talbot, and have combined for a 2.84 goals-against average (GAA) and .913 save percentage (SV%). The duo has a .620 quality start percentage (QS%) and Talbot has the lone shutout.

Related: Wild’s Matt Boldy Exceeding All Expectations

The Wild were in the “found” category their first time on this list, but that was back at the end of November. While they’re likely to find a way to stabilize and get back into the win column, it’ll be interesting to see if the teams chasing them can capitalize on their skid and gain ground in the Central Division.  

They’ll have four games in March’s first week, kicking off the trade deadline month with a rematch against the Flames. They’ll play seven games in 13 days, including two sets of back-to-backs, and 16 games in the 31-day month. It’ll be interesting to see if fatigue will prolong their struggles.

Found: Los Angeles Kings Further Legitimized With Winning Streak

In the unexpectedly close and contentious Pacific Division, the Kings have amassed a five-game winning streak, and have won eight of their past 10. They’ve really found a home in the “found” section as this is their third appearance both on the list with this rating. 

They won three of those five games this past week, with a plus-7 goal differential. Over their past 10 games, their power play has struggled to just a 16% conversion rate, which is right around their season average. On the flip side, their penalty killing has been solid, allowing just three goals in 26 chances, or 88%, which is way above their 76% season average. 

The Kings have averaged a mighty 35.7 shots-for per game over those 10 games, and have been one of the top teams in shots per game this season. Captain Anze Kopitar is one of the players who lead the way. The two-time Frank J. Selke Trophy winner ranked fourth with 144 shots, but led the team with 50 points in 53 games. Adrian Kempe leads with 25 goals, and is second with 148 shots, in 50 games. 

They’re also among the league’s best in shots-against per game, and have allowed just 26 shots-against per game over their past 10. It’s helpful for their 35-year-old backbone Jonathan Quick. He’s played 30 games and holds a 2.55 GAA and .913 SV% with two shutouts. It’s looking to be his best season since 2017-18. 

They have a three-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights for second in the Pacific Division. Still, they have two teams nipping at their heels, just on the outside of the wild card picture, but still within the grasp of a divisional playoff spot. Given how competitive their division is, the longer they can ride this hot streak, the better. 

Related: Kings Should Not Be in the Market for a Forward

The Kings will play four games this week, and five in the next eight days. Four of those games will be on the road, where they’re 15-6-5. While they won’t play any divisional opponents, they’ll have a few very winnable games, especially for a team on this hot a run, that they’ll need to capitalize on. 

Weekly Lost & Found What's Trending in the NHL
Weekly Lost & Found What’s Trending in the NHL (The Hockey Writers)

It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes the Wild to snap out of this funk. In addition, whether or not the Kings will make any deadline acquisitions to benefit their playoff push. Either way, stick with The Hockey Writers for coverage.

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