Whether or not change infiltrates the Wild before the NHL trade deadline expires at 2 p.m. local time Monday is up to management.
All the players can dictate is their play, and they’ve done a pretty decent job of that recently with the 3-2 overtime win over the Sharks Sunday at Xcel Energy Center the latest indication the team is finding a groove at just the right time.
“That's kind of the mindset you have to take and, especially right now,” winger Jason Zucker said. “We gotta play like a desperate team and make sure that we're playing at the best that we feel we can come playoff time and just keep pushing and gaining ground as much as we can."
This run, which is tied for the longest win streak of the season, has helped the Wild establish some much-needed cushion in the standings. It has a three-point edge over the Stars for the No. 3 seed in the Central Division and is five ahead of the Blues.
“It had to happen eventually,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “It was crazy before not moving up. That’s why you just continue to talk about getting the wins that you can and winning games, and eventually every single one of those teams isn’t going to win the same amount of games. You’re starting to see that now. We just gotta take advantage of these points, and hopefully that continues and just try to separate us as much as we can.”
Coach Bruce Boudreau expects a quiet day for the team Monday; even practice will probably be optional. The team hosts the Blues Tuesday, and it’ll be interesting to see if the group can maintain this rhythm – with or without any tweaks to the roster.
“I guess I’ve learned enough to never be surprised at anything that happens,” center Matt Cullen said when asked if he’d be surprised if he’d be on the move Monday. “I don’t know. You never really know what’s going to happen on trade-deadline day. There’s always a lot of moving parts and a lot of things can happen. Never totally sure. But those are things as a player, it’s out of your control. You just do your thing as you normally would. You play long enough, you realize those things that are out of your control. You can’t really worry about.”
Here’s what else to watch for after the Wild’s overtime win over the Sharks.
- Center Eric Staal reached the 30-goal mark for the sixth time in his career after scoring the game-tying goal late in the third period.
He became the 11th player in team history to hit the plateau and first since winger Zach Parise notched 33 in 2014-15. This was the first time Staal scored at least 30 since 2010-11.
“That's a pretty amazing story, and it's unfortunate that he gets no national attention with [Alex Ovechkin] getting 38 and so far down the line,” Boudreau said. “I think what he's done has been tremendous.”
- This was the third straight time the Wild overcame a deficit after falling behind, and the confidence from previous rallies seems to be stoking the team.
“I think the biggest thing is we’re showing that we’re sticking to the game plan,” Cullen said. “Earlier in the year, we may have changed things up a little bit if things weren’t going our way and find ourselves in trouble and dig a hole. But I think it’s been pretty good here lately. We’ve found a way to stick with what we’re doing and keep going at it. Eventually things are going to come. It’s good you build confidence in that. That’s important this time of year.”
- Defenseman Jonas Brodin could be in the lineup as soon as Tuesday if he’s cleared by doctors Monday.
“If they say he's good to play and he feels like he's good to play, then he'll probably play,” Boudreau said. “If they say give it a couple more days, then we'll give it a couple more days.”