The temperatures in downtown St. Paul lingered in the low 30s with sleet late Monday morning, so it’s understandable why Alex Stalock might have been thinking like many Minnesotans as the gray skies of November signaled the approaching winter: Let’s go somewhere warm.
“Obviously, with the good weather, we’re looking forward to it,” Stalock said from Tria Rink, where the Wild practiced, a few hours before embarking on a 10-day, four-game trip that begins Tuesday night at Anaheim.
Defenseman Matt Dumba was doing some California dreamin’, too, shooting down any suggestion that a team that has already played nine of its first 14 games away from Xcel Energy Center is weary of another plane trip.
“Not when you’re going to somewhere like California,” Dumba said. “Everyone’s excited for this trip.”
That excitement has roots in the destinations — Anaheim, San Jose, Arizona and Los Angeles — but also in chance for redemption. The Wild is 1-8 on the road this season, being outscored 34-14, and players want to change that.
“We have to improve on our road record, that’s for sure,” forward Marcus Foligno said. “And what better way to do it than on a West Coast swing where you can gain some team chemistry and at the same time get some big wins against some good teams?”
Be it home, road or wherever, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau just wants his 4-9-1 team to start collecting points.
“Every game we play is a challenge for us, so this is no different,” said Boudreau, whose team lost to St. Louis 4-3 in overtime at home on Saturday. “Everybody needs the points, everybody wants the points, everybody’s desperate. We’ve got to be more desperate than those guys.”
The Wild has shown signs of life recently on the road. The team held a 3-0 lead at Dallas last Tuesday before collapsing in the third period in a 6-3 loss. A night later, Minnesota entered the third period tied 1-1 with Stanley Cup champion St. Louis before Alex Pietrangelo’s goal 1:39 into the period proved to be the winner in a 2-1 Blues victory.
Those aren’t the results the Wild is seeking, but Boudreau is hanging hope on incremental progress.
“If we play for the most part as solid as we did for probably eight periods out of nine last week,” he said, “maybe we’ll get a little puck luck and things will start to go our way.”
It doesn’t hurt that three of the Wild’s four opponents on this tour of the Pacific Division haven’t been world-beaters recently. Though Anaheim is third in the division, the Ducks have lost five of eight. The Wild’s Thursday opponent, San Jose, is last in the Pacific with nine points and has lost five in a row. Los Angeles, which the Wild visits Nov. 12, is seventh in the Pacific with 10 points and has lost four of five, including a 5-1 defeat to the Wild in St. Paul on Oct. 26.
Dumba has been encouraged with his team’s play in the past week, even though it resulted in only one point in the standings.
“We had some tough bounces and some things we can clean up, and I think we’re addressing that,” he said. “We’re looking forward to this trip to resurrect our road record. It’s time. It’s just overdue.”
• Winger Mats Zuccarello had a maintenance day in did not practice. “He should be fine for tomorrow,” Boudreau said.
• Defenseman Greg Pateryn, who has been out since training camp and underwent core muscle surgery in early October, did not accompany the team on the road trip. Pateryn has participated in some morning skates recently.