SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Wild’s franchise-high seven straight road games have been spaced out so far, with the team returning to the Twin Cities twice after crossing off the first three contests.
But the trek will end in a flurry this week amid three tests in four nights, a frenetic finish that seems to underscore the significance of Tuesday’s matchup in San Jose against the Sharks.
“The first game of the week is really important,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I think playing one of the Stanley Cup favorites, especially to come out of the West, is a big game for us, and it could set the tone for the week. That’s the way we’re looking at it, and we’re hoping we can continue to play along the lines of how we played in St. Louis. If we can do that, I think we’ll be competitive.”
This run away from Xcel Energy Center has been positive so far for the Wild, as it sits 2-1 after rolling by the Blues 5-1 Saturday in St. Louis.
Look for the Sharks, though, to present a unique challenge with not one but two elite players on their blue line in Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson.
“We do we have to acknowledge the fact that one of those guys are on the ice almost all the time,” Boudreau said. “The one thing that it adds to San Jose [is] they got four men in the rush almost all the time. So your forwards really got to be aware that they can’t sit when the puck goes somewhere else and watch. They gotta be moving their legs because San Jose is coming up with four guys.”
Still, the Wild should be a confident group.
It’s won seven of its last eight games, a consistency that Boudreau attributes to how well each player’s been able to embrace his responsibilities.
“At the beginning, no matter if you’ve been with the same team for five years, you don’t know if the roles have changed,” Boudreau said. “Now guys are settling in, whether they’re penalty killers. They’re eight-to-10-minute guys, or they’re guys depended [on] for 18 minutes to be able to score. I think that’s really improved on our part as the season’s gone on so far.”
Jordan Greenway-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle
Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund
Jason Zucker-Joel Eriksson Ek-Nino Niederreiter
Marcus Foligno-Eric Fehr-J.T. Brown
Ryan Suter- Matt Dumba
Jonas Brodin-Jared Spurgeon
Nick Seeler-Greg Pateryn
197: Career assists for winger Mikael Granlund.
99: Power-play goals for winger Zach Parise in his career.
6: Consecutive wins for the Wild over the Sharks.
4-2-1: How the Wild has fared in its last seven trips to San Jose.
21: Points for center Eric Staal in 20 career games vs. the Sharks.
About the Sharks:
The Sharks are coming off a 4-3 overtime win over the Flyers Saturday, which improved the team to 7-4-3. San Jose has collected at least a point in seven of its last eight games. The Sharks have outscored their opponents 29-22 in that span. Three players are tied for the team lead in points with 16 (forwards Logan Couture and Timo Meier and defenseman Brent Burns). Erik Karlsson, who was added via trade from the Senators before the season starts, has seven assists.