MONTREAL – Coach Bruce Boudreau addressed the Wild after the first period and following the second.
But once the group’s sixth loss in seven games ended, a 4-0 drubbing by the Canadiens Thursday at Bell Centre, it was captain Mikko Koivu who did the talking during a roughly 10-minute, closed-door meeting among the players.
“Some things needed to be said,” winger Jason Zucker said. “Mikko covered them.”
The schedule has been rigorous and ripe with playoff teams, a strenuous challenge that was clear months ago when the calendar was set. But after a 1-6 start, the players trained the focus on exactly where it needs to be and that’s the Wild as it’s currently assembled.
“What gives me the belief is this group of guys is tight, and there was so much optimism coming in and we just get kind of stifled like we have been,” defenseman Matt Dumba said. “It's just kind of piling up against us and it feels like if we can just take down layer by layer and break that down and get some confidence here and get rolling, anything can kind of happen. We have to get one.”
Aside from this being a squad that continues to make the same mistakes over and over, it looks like a team carrying the pressure of its eyesore of a record.
Players seem tense and are trying to do too much instead of simplifying their approach. And that isn’t helping the team’s cause. It’s hurting it.
“We have all had our moments of plays that we want back, myself included,” Dumba said. “It's just got to stop. We have to be dialed in for 60 minutes and come to the rink prepared for that, whether it's the starts or ends or wherever that might be. We have to be dialed in, and that's on us. We will find it here.”
Turnovers also continue to be costly; the Canadiens feasted on a pair to open the scoring and finish it – with the first against winger Kevin Fiala behind the net setting the tone for a three-goal run by Montreal in less than five minutes.
“It was frustrating,” Boudreau said, “but he wasn’t the only one who made a whole bunch of turnovers. It was the first major one that created a goal. But we’re also supposed to come back through the middle and stop, and we were both on the boards. If we had of been back through the middle, the puck would have come right to us. One mistake begets another mistake type thing.”
The Wild will have some time to reset; after a day off Friday, the team will practice Saturday before hosting the Canadiens for the rematch on Sunday.
This break could also help the team get healthy.
Not only are forwards Mats Zuccarello and Victor Rask dealing with lower-body injuries, but center Joel Eriksson Ek left the action Thursday after blocking three shots from Shea Weber during a penalty kill in the second period.
After the game, Eriksson Ek was spotted leaving the arena with a walking boot on his left foot.
Boudreau didn’t have an update on Eriksson Ek’s status.
“What a courageous man to stay in front of three of Weber’s shots,” Boudreau said. “But that’s the kind of character he’s got. I just hope he’s OK.”