The other day, Head Coach Mike Yeo cited puck management as an area that needed improvement when evaluating the Wild's start to the season.
Against the Nashville Predators on Thursday, a team that can feast off its opponent's turnovers, Yeo said taking care of the puck will be all the more important.
"Puck management and execution, those two areas," Yeo said. "If we're not managing the puck the right way, that's a team in transition; their counter-attack is so quick. The way that their defense activates, you're not going to be in a position to be able to defend."
The teams are set and it’s time to let the growing begin.
On Tuesday morning Paul Allen of KFAN 100.3, live on his program the “PA Show”, was joined by FOX Sports North’s Kevin Gorg to draft their respective Wild Mo Bro teams for a fundraising competition in support of Movember. This competition, as part of the Minnesota Wild and Jack Link’s® Protein Snacks teaming up, is to raise awareness for men’s health. Click here to learn more about how you could win Wild tickets while getting involved and championing the cause.
The roster’s look like this:
Team KFAN 100.3:
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Team FOX Sports North:
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Sometimes, it just takes one bounce or seeing one puck go in to get a player or a line going.
Head Coach Mike Yeo said that's his feeling when it comes to Mikael Granlund's line, which is responsible for three even-strength goals this season, scored in Minnesota's first three games.
"I know that they're not far off," Yeo said. "It's one or two plays connecting for them that it's amazing how quickly the confidence can turn."
The Wild is in the midst of a four-day break between games on its calendar. It's not anything the team isn't used to, with this being the third four-day layoff the Wild has dealt with in the past five weeks.
And after playing a back-to-back against the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues this weekend, rematches against each of the Wild's playoff opponents from last season, Minnesota surpassed the double-digit games played mark for the season.
It's provided a sample-size—albeit a smaller one—for some reflection, and one Head Coach Mike Yeo thinks has the Wild on a good path.
The Wild knows the Chicago Blackhawks quite well. Playing against the same team 28 times over the past three seasons as Minnesota and Chicago have breeds familiarity.
So when the Wild faces the Blackhawks for the first time this season on Friday, despite some changes to the Blackhawks roster from this offseason, Minnesota knows it's going up against a team with a deep forward group, which makes the Wild's depth all the more paramount.
"It's not just on the defensemen, too," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "If you're going to have any kind of success against this team, you're going to have to defend as a group out there, and our forwards, how they play both with and without the puck, will be a huge factor in what our defensemen's games looks like at the end of the night.
"It's going to have to be a collective effort, that's for sure."
A day ahead of a its first game of the season against the Chicago Blackhawks, lots of questions were asked of the Wild regarding another meeting with a team it has faced in each of the past two postseasons.
There's undoubtedly a high level of respect for the Blackhawks in the Wild's locker room, but this early in the season, all games are still about improving, regardless the opponent.
"For sure you have to adjust the way the opponent plays, and what their strengths are," Mikko Koivu said. "It's a challenge with the defending champions, so you want to always play a good game.
"But it's more important that we play better as a team, and stay in our process right now."
Like many teams around the League, the Wild will get its first look at a young Edmonton Oilers team on Tuesday. Edmonton's roster consists of 13 players who are 25 years old or younger.
And as has been the case with most of Edmonton's opponents, the Wild will be tasked with and was asked about playing against 18-year-old rookie Connor McDavid.
"Obviously he's a great player, and he's been proving it lately, but most of all we have to worry about ourselves, and our game plan to deter what he does best with his speed," Jared Spurgeon said. " You can see with a lot of the young guys with how talented they are and how hard they work.
"Every game you play against one of those young guys is something new, and you look forward to that challenge."
Through the early portion of the season, Head Coach Mike Yeo has maintained one of the most important things for the Wild is using each game to get better.
A 4-1-1 start is also very important, and after reviewing the Wild's Thursday 3-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Yeo liked what he saw.
"There are certain games where it looks better live, and then you watch the tape, and you realize it wasn't as good as you thought it was, and vice versa," Yeo said. "Actually last, when I watched the tape, it was pretty darn close to a 60-minute effort."
Between October 19, and November 13, the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association are putting on the 17th annual Hockey Fights Cancer Campaign. Beginning in 1998, the joint initiative has raised over $15 million that has been donated to national and local organizations in cancer research and care.
This year, four local cancer charities will partner with the Wild throughout October: Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and Movember.
The Wild will host its official Hockey Fights Cancer Night on Tuesday, October 27, against the Edmonton Oilers. There are a number of ways fans can get involved, key dates, and upcoming events.
There are plenty of ulterior storylines facing the Wild tonight, playing a winless Columbus Blue Jackets team, and one with a new coach.
That's why, as always, the Wild is keeping the focus on itself.
"It's going to be a tough game," Jonas Brodin said. "They just fired their coach, and they got a new coach, so they're going to come out hard and work a lot. We have to be ready from the start, and just play our game, and don't focus on them."