ANAHEIM – After two practices and an off day, the Minnesota Wild returns to game action on Wednesday at Honda Center against the Anaheim Ducks.
For a team currently determined to get out of a slide, a lull in the schedule was useful, but nothing would be a better tonic than going out and having a strong game.
"It's been a welcome break; that's for sure," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "It's nice to have a few days to try to collect yourselves, and now we've got a chance to see if we used the days affectively."
ANAHEIM -- The Minnesota Wild is in the midst of arguably the most adversity it has faced this season.
But with three days separating the Wild from its previous game — a 3-0 loss against the Nashville Predators — and a Wednesday matchup with the Anaheim Ducks that begins a stretch of four games in six days, the Wild knows how quickly momentum can swing.
"Practice is awesome, but getting in the fire in actual games, when we get those opportunities, that's where we can build the most, and really get the confidence and the momentum," Matt Dumba said.
In the midst of a 120:52 goalless drought, the Minnesota Wild went through a practice on Sunday led by Skills and Skating Coach Andy Ness.
It was a session spent primarily with puck on stick, taking shots, and trying to regain a feel and a rhythm that has been amiss during a recent slump.
"Practice-schedule wise has been tough for us lately, and then you don't have a lot of practices, and you tend to focus on the team concepts, and the systems part of your game," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "What suffered a little bit is the individual skill work for the players, and that was the purpose of today."
A shot on goal can lead to many random outcomes, all of which the Minnesota Wild are looking to create on Friday against the Winnipeg Jets.
After losses against the Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils to open a three-game homestand, one of the objectives for the Wild against Winnipeg on Friday is simple: attempt more shots.
"We need to have a lot of shots," Jonas Brodin said. "It's hard to defend as a defender if the opposite team is shooting the puck a lot. You never know where it's going to go."
Once the subject of a rant by Allen Iverson, the Minnesota Wild got some much needed work in Thursday at Xcel Energy Center. And yes, we're talking about practice.
For the third time since Christmas, the Wild found time amid a hectic schedule to get on the ice for a full hour, and fine-tune some areas of its game it felt needed improvement.
"I honestly don't remember the last time we had a practice like that," Jason Zucker said. "It's good to get out there and have a couple, and it's good to get back into that routine a little bit."
Before the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks met in the past three Stanley Cup Playoffs, before the likes of Mikko Koivu and Jonathan Toews forged a new rivalry between the Central Division opponents, the Minnesota North Stars and Blackhawks were the hot ticket.
"It was fun," Brad Maxwell said. "And it grew. When I first came in, in ’77 it was pretty good, but then as years progressed, so did the rivalry."
The ticket will get punched again in February when North Stars and Wild alumni team up to face former Blackhawks prior to the 2016 Stadium Series Game.
Tom Reid wears many different hats around Minnesota.
Some nights, his hat is actually a headset as he's doing play-by-play for Minnesota Wild hockey games on the radio.
Other nights, he's wearing his proprietor hat, and making sure things are operating smoothly at Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub.
After losing to the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Tuesday, Head Coach Mike Yeo lamented the Minnesota Wild's lack of a shot-first mentality.
The Wild fell behind 3-0 in the first period, but cut that deficit to 3-1 through two, outshooting Buffalo 15-4 in the second.
Then in the third, Minnesota took two shots over the first 17 minutes, and the scoring chances waned.
Devan Dubnyk didn't really have time to think about how tired he would be. His focus had to be on just getting there.
It's nearly one year to the day Dubnyk was traded from the Arizona Coyotes to the Minnesota Wild, and began a stretch of 38 consecutive starts.
Logistically, the first one may have been his toughest.
Call it Love Potion Number 43 for the Minnesota Wild, only this January, the Wild isn't feeling so lovesick.
The past two seasons, the Wild and Sabres have met in game number 43 on Minnesota's schedule. And each time, the Wild was in need of a win, and came away with one in convincing fashion.
Two years ago, the Wild defeated the Sabres 4-1 to end a six-game losing streak. Last year, in Devan Dubnyk's Wild debut, Minnesota shut out the Sabres 7-0 in Buffalo at First Niagara Center.