As Mike Yeo said even before the Wild was shut out for a second consecutive game Saturday, “We’ve been here before.”
And that’s the frustration.
Yet again, for another season, the Wild is trudging along in a midseason slide. This year, it just started later than usual.
The Wild has scored three goals during its four-game losing streak and has two victories in nine games since the calendar turned to 2016. In the past 15 games, the Wild is averaging 1.93 goals — 1.67 if four empty-netters are omitted.
Chuck Fletcher said he is looking for solutions, whether that be via trade or a spark from suddenly heating-up Iowa.
“But,” the Wild general manager said, “the most likely scenario is going to be just to find a way to play better with the group we have and we play our way out of our little scoring slump and get back to the way we were scoring earlier in the year.
“If something makes sense, we’ll do it. But usually the solution’s in the room and not found on the outside.”
Since 1993, Fletcher has been an executive with the Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks, Pittsburgh Penguins and the Wild. He said in his history, the only team he has ever seen avoid any type of season slump is the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks, who ran through the lockout-shortened 48-game schedule and playoffs en route to a Stanley Cup.
“No matter how much it frustrates you and how much you’re not happy with it, it happens to everybody,” Fletcher said. “So you battle through. For us it tends to happen when we get tired and run down, and unfortunately we’re going through a tough part of the schedule.
“But if we can keep defending well, sooner or later the offense will snap out of it.”
Fletcher noted that when this four-game skid began against New Jersey, “it was our seventh game in 11 nights in six cities. We had nothing in the tank. We battled fatigue, then we started to lose our game.
“Now we’re struggling a little bit with confidence and execution, and when guys are struggling, sometimes you overthink the game and you look to make the better play than maybe the play you have. As a result things don’t seem to work.
“We have to battle our way through it. The one thing that’s amazing here is that so many players can struggle at the same time. That’s the frustrating part.”
He’s not kidding.
“We’re too deliberate and too methodical right now offensively,” Fletcher said. “We just need to get back to playing, getting pucks to the net, simplify it and I think we’ll get to a better place. Things can turn around pretty quickly. They’re going to have to continue to battle through.”
While Fletcher vows to keep talking to teams in search of an external solution, he also watched Iowa win in overtime Saturday for its fifth victory in eight games. By lowly Iowa’s standard, that’s as torrid a pace as can be expected.
Defenseman Christian Folin just returned from a concussion, defenseman Gustav Olofsson from the flu. Center Grayson Downing has 11 goals and 25 points in 24 games.
But the hope is center Tyler Graovac can get his game back in order after sports hernia surgery following only one game with Minnesota. He has only one goal and three assists and is minus-12 in 14 games with Iowa.
“He’s starting to play with better pace and with more confidence with the puck,” Fletcher said. “He missed a lot of time. In the meantime, it’s up to the coaches and the players to just battle through. There’s no other way around it.
“We’ll get out of this. We always have and we will again.”