The Wild will attempt to snap a five-game losing streak tonight against the Los Angeles Kings, who have won two Cups in the past four years and are back on top of the Pacific after a down year last season.
They are 9-2-1 in their past 12 and the Wild has lost five of its past eight in L.A., including in overtime in October.
Birthday boy Jonathan Quick vs. Darcy Kuemper tonight.
This is the completion of four sets of back-to-backs for the Wild this month. The Wild lost the previous second game in that scenario. It really hasn’t been legs by any stretch though. It’s just been the same symptom of no scoring.
No goals in Nashville, one goal against the Devils at home, one goal at Florida.
The Wild has scored four goals during this five-game losing streak despite outshooting the past four teams and has 30 goals in the past 16 games (1.63 a game if you exclude the four empty-netters because I’m that kind of guy).
Even through last season’s late December and January turmoil, the Wild hasn’t lost six in a row in regulation since Dec. 19-31, 2013.
“Couple weeks ago, we were one of the better teams in the league,” coach Mike Yeo said during this morning’s optional skate at the Staples Center. “We haven’t forgotten that. We haven’t forgotten how to do it. We haven’t all of a sudden become a bad team. We’re a good team that’s just in a bad spell.
“… We are all frustrated and disappointed. We have to enjoy the challenge. We’ve been one of only a small group of teams that have made the playoffs the last three years and every year we’ve had to try to get through something like this and obviously we have to do it again.”
Well, that’s one way of looking at this slump, I suppose.
It is beyond clear that GM Chuck Fletcher is desperately trying to make a trade. Every time I see him, he’s got his iPhone pasted to his ear. I just passed him at Starbucks and he was sitting outside at Starbucks on the phone with each team’s organizational charts in front of him.
The Wild has called up Jordan Schroeder for tonight’s game against the Kings. He has no goals, one assist and 11 shots in 11 games for the Wild this season, but he supplied a spark at this time of year last season for the Wild and ultimately never left.
Yeo said there’s a good chance he’ll play tonight as long as he has no travel problems.
What’s he looking for from Schroeder?
“Bring some speed, a little bit of energy if he gets into the lineup for sure,” Yeo said. “He’s capable of coming down the wing and shooting the puck and it hopefully going in.”
Yeo wouldn’t say who comes out of the lineup, but my guess would be Justin Fontaine sits. Erik Haula worked his butt off last night even though he played limited ice time.
I asked Yeo if he’d sit one of the struggling vets to make a statement.
“Listen, no, I’m not going to take one of our key guys or one of our leaders or one of the guys that we count on to score out,” Yeo said. “That game last night was similar to the game before and very similar to a lot of our games. It was right there for us. I mean, we’re doing enough things to give ourselves a chance to win, but I look at the third period, when things are going the way they are right now, where you slip a little bit, it’s not big things, it’s little things. That’s where we got a little weaker in the third period. You look at the goal against, shouldn’t happen.”
I’m sure you’ll have fun reacting to that quote.
The Wild stretched its shift on the Rikard Rakell winning goal and it cost em. Jason Zucker and Thomas Vanek, the F1 and F2 got caught, so Zucker went for a change and Vanek idled back. Jarret Stoll thought about going for a change, and by the time he realized Zucker was, he sprinted into the zone and was too far back and gave his defensemen, especially birthday boy Ryan Suter, no way to react to Rakell behind him.
We’re putting ourselves under a great deal of pressure,” Yeo said. “It’s hard to play a perfect game and that’s what we’re forcing ourselves to do right now.”
Stoll, who lives in Hermosa Beach and scored his first goal with the Wild last night, returns to L.A. for the first time. He spent seven seasons here and won two Cups.
The Kings went through unbelievable droughts one of their Cup seasons and Stoll says it only takes “a game or two [to get out of this]. Doesn’t take much. It could take only one game, it could take a big third period to come out and pull out a win. Hopefully that’s tonight for us. We’ve got to start something here. We’ve had meetings. You can talk all you want but you’ve got to get out there and do it. You’ve got to find ways to win games. Last night we were tied going into the third period against a good team and we didn’t find a way to win that. Those are the games you’ve got to find a way to get points out of. We gave up that go ahead goal and that was a mistake on a lot of our parts and those are the games you need.”
I’ll be on KFAN at 4:35 p.m. CT for a jolly chat with Dan Barreiro, I’m certain.