COLUMBUS, Ohio – Wild coach Bruce Boudreau often mentions the importance of winning the week, a mindset that breaks the season down into manageable segments while also focusing on stockpiling points.
But the Wild is in jeopardy of not growing its stash at all in the final days of November after a 4-2 loss to the Blue Jackets Thursday dropped the team to 0-2, a grim outlook with a visit from the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday on tap.
“Obviously, we’re going through a little bit of a downturn here,” Boudreau said. “But the only way you [stop] it is through practice, preaching and getting a little bit more confidence back. The only way you get confidence is by success. You do the things and you find success and then you go, ‘OK, let’s continue to do those things.’ It’s gotten away from us, and we gotta pull it back in.”
During the performance against the Blue Jackets, Boudreau noticed a few players on the ice lacking that assertiveness.
He thought goalie Devan Dubnyk “looked really down” after Columbus scored its fourth goal.
“Duby had a good third period, and I’m hoping that kickstarts him again,” Boudreau said.
In isolation, this outcome against the Blue Jackets might not be as troubling.
Columbus is a stout team, especially at home, and falling behind a team as disciplined as the Blue Jackets can be a recipe for disaster.
But on the heels of the 4-3 loss to the Coyotes Tuesday – and shortly after other recent setbacks to the Sabres and Blackhawks – the Wild has lost the groove that it had earlier this season when it went 10-2.
“That’s probably what’s most frustrating about the Arizona game,” Dubnyk said. “Now it’s a question rather than this is a tough game in a tough building against a good team. It happens. That’s how we really have to try to view it. They’re not major things. They’re just little things, little clean-ups in our end. Other than that, we’re doing a pretty good job generating and working hard. So when it’s just small things to clean up, it’s something that’s easy to do.”
Execution is among the areas the Wild can improve.
Although it had enough zone time against Columbus to capitalize, the team didn’t.
Odd-man rushes fizzled and, ultimately, not enough shots reached the net with the Wild maxing out at 25.
The Wild was without winger Jason Zucker for the last part of the first period, as he left the game after blocking a shot with his right foot. But Zucker returned to the game for the start of the second and said after the game his foot will be “all right.”
“Playing against that coach [John Tortorella], all the teams he coaches, they block a lot of shots,” said winger Zach Parise, one of the Wild’s goal scorers Thursday. “So they do a good job of that. That could have been part of the reason. I just think there’s got to be a better way for us to get some shots at the net. Same thing happened against Arizona. Just not enough pucks.”
Not only would the Wild rebounding Saturday ensure it doesn’t close out the week emptyhanded, but it’d also nix the Wild’s losing streak at two games – which is the longest rut it’s found itself in this season.
“It’s a big game Saturday against a really good Eastern team again,” winger Marcus Folingo said. “We’ve got to show our character and the way that we can play and obviously just to redeem ourselves on home ice.”