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Uneasiness looms over Wild as trade deadline approaches

Monday may look like a typical day for the Wild, with players set to gather at Tria Rink in St. Paul for a morning practice ahead of a Tuesday meeting with the Blue Jackets.

But the vibe will be unique, as the team waits to see just how much it changes – if it does at all – before the NHL trade deadline expires at 2 p.m.

“Everyone knows their name is in the media and things like that,” winger Marcus Foligno said. “You've got to just try to be mentally tough tomorrow and be a professional and show up to work. That's all you can really ask for and do. Let the decisions be made by the brass. It's going to be for the betterment of the hockey team.”

 

 

The last game the team gave management to chew on before the trade window closes wasn’t the same result the Wild had on its recent two-game road trip.

After sweeping Vancouver and Edmonton, the Wild returned home to face the reigning Stanley Cup champions and had its momentum stalled in a 4-1 loss.

“He’s not going to make a kneejerk decision based off of 60 minutes of hockey,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said of General Manager Bill Guerin. “Billy knows what he wants to do. He’s smart, and he wants to make our team the best it can be for now and for later. But we certainly believe in here that this group is capable of being where we need to be at the end of the year.”

The Wild certainly got an in-depth look at how contenders are skating, with the Blues putting on a clinic Sunday – building a lead, growing it and then protecting it the rest of the way.

Not only did the team respond after the Wild cut its deficit in half, but the St. Louis penalty killers took advantage of a struggling Wild power play in the third to put an exclamation point on its victory. Goalie Jordan Binnington finished with 32 saves.

“I don’t want to sound like the ultimate optimist, but we played pretty good,” interim coach Dean Evason said. “That’s an extremely good hockey club, obviously, and their goaltender was on – which he’s been on for a long time obviously. But we had opportunities. We had looks. We had chances. We thought our game was good. But at the end of the day, we didn’t get the job done.”

The Wild’s power play ended up 0-for-4, extending an 0-for-13 funk over the team’s last five games.

“It gets frustrating, but we liked the bench tonight.,” Evason said. “There was no negativity. It got down, obviously, but we talked at the start – one at a time. This one’s over, and we’ll look forward to Columbus.”

During the game, the Blues were announced as the Wild’s opponent for the 2021 NHL Winter Classic at Target Field – an opportunity St. Louis players were excited to experience.

“It’s fun for us,” captain Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s something different. We all grew up on those outdoor rinks, so to make it a reality at this level is pretty special.”

Wild recalls Mayhew, Belpedio with Kunin, Soucy injured

The Wild’s playoff push will continue Sunday against the Blues at Xcel Energy Center without two regulars.

Center Luke Kunin is expected to miss 10-14 days with an upper-body injury, and defenseman Carson Soucy is projected to be out two-to-four weeks with an upper-body injury.

Both were hurt Friday in the 5-3 win over the Oilers.

“Obviously very key players for us, but we’ve got guys that have played all year that will play in those positions,” interim coach Dean Evason said. “We’ll mix the lines up a little bit and have some different looks. [It’s] cliché but whenever somebody goes out, somebody has to step up. Souc and Kunny are real good players for us, obviously, and we’re expecting guys to step up for sure.”

 

 

With those two unavailable, the Wild recalled winger Gerald Mayhew and defenseman Louie Belpedio from the American Hockey League. Neither is likely to play Sunday. Soucy was moved to injured reserve to create the additional roster spot the team needed to accommodate both players.

This promotion to the NHL comes amid Mayhew’s terrific season with Iowa.

In 48 games, he has 39 goals and 22 assists for 61 points – leading the league in scoring, goals and game-winning goals (10). He did play seven games with the Wild earlier this season, scoring his first NHL goal in his debut. But he’s been in the minors ever since that stint.

“I’m a pretty patient person,” Mayhew said. “It’s tough when you’re doing well. I think in a sense [General Manager Bill Guerin] just wants to keep me down there to continue to do what I’m doing. Just keep going.”

Projected lineup:

Ryan Donato-Eric Staal-Kevin Fiala

Zach Parise-Alex Galchenyuk-Mats Zuccarello

Marcus Foligno-Joel Eriksson Ek-Jordan Greenway

Victor Rask-Mikko Koivu-Ryan Hartman

Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba

Brad Hunt-Greg Pateryn

Devan Dubnyk

Key numbers:

0-1-1: Record for the Wild this season vs. Blues.

5-1: Run for the Wild in its last six contests against the Central Division.

12: Points for winger Kevin Fiala in his past nine games.

10: Assists for defenseman Ryan Suter over his last 14 games.

8-3-3: Showing at home for the Wild over its past 14 contests at home.

About the Blues:

St. Louis is sitting atop the Central Division, one point ahead of second-place Colorado. The Blues have won three in a row, a span in which they’ve outshot their opponents 9-1. Before a 5-1 victory Friday in Dallas, the Blues posted back-to-back shutouts. Winger David Perron has a team-high 24 goals and 57 points. Goalie Jordan Binnington is 26-11-7 with a .260 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.

Final, 2/23 1 2 3 F
St. Louis 36-17-10 2 1 1 4
Minnesota 29-25-7 0 1 0 1

NHL Scoreboard

  • Pittsburgh

    Washington

     

    - F

    3

    5

  • Chicago

    Dallas

     

    - F

    1

    2

  • Winnipeg

    Buffalo

     

    - F

    1

    2

  • San Jose

    NY Islanders

     

    - F

    1

    4

  • Calgary

    Detroit

     

    - F

    4

    2

  • St. Louis

    Minnesota

     

    - F

    4

    1

  • Vegas

    Anaheim

     

    - F

    6

    5

  • Edmonton

    Los Angeles

     

    - F

    4

    2