John Hynes knows everyone's jersey number on the Wild, but he got lost inside Xcel Energy Center before Tuesday's game.
"I was roaming around a little bit," Hynes said. "I left and I came back the same way, but it didn't seem like it was the same way. Now I got it."
After a 3-1 win over the Blues that night, Hynes' orientation as the Wild's new head coach continued Wednesday at nearby Tria Rink in St. Paul where he ran his first practice since taking over the team Monday after Dean Evason was fired.
Hynes' first order of business?
Increasing the Wild's speed.
"I'd say right now that's the biggest thing, getting the pace and the tempo higher," Hynes said. "But I think what also helps with that is strong structure. It allows to you play quick."
This uptick was already noticeable in Hynes' first game, and the Wild were rewarded for it.
They snapped their seven-game losing streak, Matt Boldy and Frederick Gaudreau ended their respective goalless droughts, and goaltender Filip Gustavsson won for the first time in eight starts.
"A lot of people think skating fast is what fast is, but it's more the puck play and letting the puck dictate the speed of your game and decisionmaking," defenseman Zach Bogosian said. "Being a little more predictable is something we're trying to have creep into our game and go from there."
That sharpness showed up especially on the penalty kill, which denied all four St. Louis power plays.
The last two chances were part of a four-minute, high-sticking penalty against Boldy, and although the Blues had their looks, the Wild weren't frazzled. Their PK is still the worst in the NHL (68.5%), but the fact there wasn't any panic in their posture was progress.
"That's been haunting us the whole year," Gustavsson said. "We've had some momentum in a few games and went to the PK and they scored almost every PK it felt like for a while. That's really tiring for your mental health.
"Now going out there and feel like you're going to kill it, not just go out there and be there, it's a big difference."
Making these improvements against a Central Division rival helped the Wild get closer to the playoff race they're behind in, and they'll have the same opportunity Thursday at Nashville, which will be a homecoming for Hynes.
He coached the Predators for three-plus seasons before the team replaced him with former Wild player Andrew Brunette last offseason. Hynes' wife, Sarah, and daughters Sophia, Julia and Anna will remain in Nashville.
"I packed all my stuff here, and then I unpacked them all and put them in the hotel room," Hynes said. "Now I got all the same suitcases empty to come back again."
If he brings a win back with him, Hynes will be just the second coach in Wild history to debut 2-0.
"Whether you have a losing streak like that or you're just not playing well, whenever you snap out of it, it's a good feeling," Bogosian said. "We can't rest our hat on that. Obviously, we have to have that same effort [Thursday] night.
"That's what good teams do in this league: They put consistent efforts together, and that's something we need to do as a group."