DALLAS -- With 52 points through 41 games, a franchise record in productivity through the first half of a season, the Minnesota Wild has plenty to be happy about as it gets ready to play game 42 on Sunday.
But most importantly for Minnesota is the process by which it has traversed the opening leg of the 2015-16 NHL schedule. The Wild is attempting to forge a product conducive to winning hockey games in May and June.
"There are a lot of teams that are pushing, and a lot of teams that are competing hard right now, but I would say for the most part, our game has been pretty consistent," Head Coach Mike Yeo said on Saturday before the Wild defeated the Dallas Stars. "We've been building that consistency, and we're kind of setting ourselves up for a pretty decent second half."
The Minnesota Wild isn’t thinking about its previous losses against the Dallas Stars this season, two of which came when the Wild held leads of two or more goals.
But what Minnesota is thinking about is what it might take to close its latest game against the Stars on Saturday.
"I'm a believer in that you have to keep playing," Zach Parise said. "I'm not a believer in just sitting back and trying to protect. There's a time and a place, but against these guys with their good players, you have to keep going at them and make them play in their own zone."
After the Minnesota Wild played a lackluster first half of a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, pinning down the reasons for its lapses was tricky.
"It could be a million things, but regardless of what the cause was, it wasn't good enough," Jason Zucker said.
"It wasn't our best. I'm not sure," Charlie Coyle said.
"We didn't play that great the first half of the game," Zach Parise said.
At the beginning of December, defenseman Mike Reilly spent a week with the Minnesota Wild after being recalled from Iowa.
Though he didn't make his NHL debut, the 22-year-old rookie defenseman spent every second around the team, in the ear of Assistant Coach Darryl Sydor, and soaking in as much knowledge as he could process.
Reilly, who said he's now, " feeling like myself," got a chance to clear his head and get back to what allows him to be successful.
In this his seventh season in the NHL, Devan Dubnyk was selected to his first NHL All-Star Game on Wednesday.
It's something Dubnyk will get experience his family, including his two-year-old son, Nate, and a story he said he would be able to pass down to his children and his children's children for years.
So as the NHL transition to a new three-on-three tournament format for its main event, where goals aren't expected to be at a premium, Dubnyk chuckled as he began to forecast how he might fare against the league's other elite talents.
The Minnesota Wild will get captain Mikko Koivu back when it hosts the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.
On Tuesday, Koivu crashed into the boards 1:21 into the Wild's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Koivu got up under his own power and skated to the bench, but was then taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons.
"I probably got lucky there in a way that nothing more happened," Koivu said. "It could have been a lot worse, but a good thing we're back here, and ready to play, and get right back at it."
Before a puck was ever dropped, before Head Coach Mike Yeo could blow his first whistle, and before Devan Dubnyk's second year as a member of the Minnesota Wild began, he stood outside the locker room at Braemar Ice Rink with a motivated grin.
Dubnyk began to paint the picture of his expectations for his second season in Minnesota, largely framed around the expectations of those not named Devan Dubnyk.
"I don't need to prove anything," Dubnyk said then.
Goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen (2014 Draft, fourth round) made 22 saves as Finland defeated Russia 4-3 in overtime in the gold medal game at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Kahhkonen did not begin the tournament as Finland's starter, but after replacing Veini Vehvilainen during Finland's 6-5, quarterfinal win against Canada, he has played every minute for the host country.
On Tuesday, Kahkonen made 10 saves in the third period, and one in overtime to help lead Finland to its second gold medal at the tournament in three years.
COLUMBUS -- It's not often that an NHL team takes 40 shots on goal, and even less often it comes away with one goal-for.
When the Minnesota Wild registered 40 shots on goal against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, it was the third such instance Minnesota has done so this season through 38 games. In the previous two, the Wild scored three and six goals, respectively.
In the NHL, of the 1,174 total games that have been played entering Tuesday, 89 times a team has taken 40 or more shots. And in those games, 20 times, including the Wild's performance on Sunday night, did the shot total result in one or zero goals-for.
Goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen (2014 Draft, fourth round) stopped 21 shots as Finland defeated Sweden 2-1 in the semifinals of the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Finland, the host country, advances to play Russia in the championship game on Tuesday.
Kahkonen has taken over in goal for Finland since midway though its quarterfinal game against Canada. After starting one of Finland's four games in the group stage — earning an 8-3 victory against Slovakia — Kahkonen was called on during the second period against Canada.