GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Wild has been humming along at an every-other-day pace for nearly six weeks, but its rhythm is about to change.
After hosting the Kings on Monday, the team will have a four-day break in the schedule — a pause that looks uncharacteristic for the grind that’s associated with March.
And while that lull gives the competition a window to hoard points while the Wild is idle, the team plans to embrace the downtime.
“You take the rest when you can get it at this point of the season,” veteran center Matt Cullen said. “We’re going to play a lot of games in a short period of time. Take it when you can get it, take advantage of it [because] we got a lot of hockey coming up.”
Aside from the chance to recharge, the timeout also gives the Wild time to practice — an opportunity coach Bruce Boudreau is looking forward to tackling. And fine-tuning its play might be just what the team needs to close out the season on a wave of momentum.
Immediately after those off days, the Wild is tasked with a back-to-back before it packages the final seven games in 12 days. And the itinerary is poised to be challenging; the Wild will face Central Division rivals Nashville and Dallas twice each, while also encountering Boston.
“It’s all against top-flight opponents,” Boudreau said. “So it’s going to be a real battle I would think. So that’s why the saying, ‘You gotta make hay when the sun shines.’ … You can get the little cushion for when you’re not playing and you’re watching other teams gain points. It’s going to happen, and you better have a little cushion available.”
Going for growth
Defenseman Matt Dumba suited up for his 300th career game Saturday, a milestone he reached after already setting career highs this season in assists (28) and points (39). Dumba also tied his career-best goal total at 11 when he scored the eventual game-winner Friday in the 4-2 win over the Golden Knights, but that isn’t the only progress Dumba is making.
“This year’s there’s been a lot more consistency in him than there was in the previous year I was here where he could be great one game [and] god awful the next game and vice versa,” Boudreau said. “There’s been more responsibility heaped on him this year, and I think he’s responded to that responsibility.”
The Tyler Ennis-Cullen-Charlie Coyle line delivered the second goal in the win Friday, with Coyle crashing the net to roof a loose puck over Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
“For our line, basically that’s kind of been sort of our recipe for success,” Cullen said. “I think that as you get closer to the playoffs, those are the goals you’re going to have to score.”
That workmanlike effort from Coyle wasn’t exclusive to the goal; he was tough on pucks throughout the game.
“Charlie is a unique player with his size and skill combination,” Cullen said. “I think giving him space with the puck, trying to create space for him, trying to get him the puck obviously is big. But I think he’s been playing really well. I think he’s been a really good fit with the three of us.”
The Iowa Wild signed forward Mitch McLain to an amateur tryout agreement. McLain, who hails from Baxter, turns pro after four seasons at Bowling Green during which he produced 53 goals and 101 points in 161 games.