Not taking away from all the great things the Wild did in December, but all it took was one loss to Columbus for coach Bruce Boudreau to voice concern for how the Wild has played the past week.
Sure it was only Saturday that the Wild’s 12-game winning and 13-game point streaks were busted, but the Wild, the best defensive team in the NHL, has allowed 14 goals in the past four games, including four goals in three of the past four.
If that keeps up, Boudreau knows the Wild could go on another type of streak.
“We have gotten away from the way that we play most likely because we’ve been scoring goals,” Boudreau said after the Blue Jackets stretched their winning streak to 15 games. “You end up changing your mind-set as an individual when you score goals.
“I told them after the game, ‘We have to get back to winning 2-1, 3-2. That is what’s going to make us win.’ ”
Goalie Devan Dubnyk, after not allowing more than three goals in 27 starts this season, has allowed four in each of his past two starts. He clearly hasn’t been as sharp, but the Wild also is giving up more Grade A chances than usual.
“I was talking to [GM] Chuck Fletcher before the game and I said, ‘Win or lose, if we do lose, we’ll know what we have to fix,’ ” Boudreau said. “You know what the elite teams play like and you know what you need to do to beat an elite team. We’ve got some ideas of what we need to do.”
The Wild is heading on the road this week to play some elite teams. It’ll play San Jose, last season’s Western Conference Stanley Cup finalist, and Anaheim for the first time and Los Angeles for the second.
Boudreau also wasn’t pleased with the Wild’s inefficiency at the net Saturday.
“If you don’t go to the front of the net and you don’t get in good goalies’ eyes where they can’t see the puck, they’re going to stop it,” Boudreau said. “You can only tell them to go to the front of the net so much. I can’t lift them and put them there and make them stay there.
“You look around the NHL that’s how goals are scored: 5 feet in front of the net or screened shots.”
Boudreau said what Columbus is doing right now is “really amazing, but what we did was pretty good, too. As long as we can get back to the way we were playing, then we’ll continue to be successful. If we play like run and gun we’re not.”
The Wild’s looking forward to a few days off. It practiced Monday in front of several fans at Braemar Arena’s outdoor rink, then will have two days at Xcel Energy Center to prepare for the road trip.
“Winning’s fun, but this one stings,” Dubnyk said of Saturday’s loss. “It was a memorable streak, and it’s going to be important for us to get back to our winning ways here.
“We were playing the right way and playing how we can, winning games how we can, getting contributions from top to bottom in the lineup, and that’s really why we’re a great hockey team. We’ve got a lot of depth, and we showed that over 12 games how we’re going to be capable of putting strings together between now and the end of the year, and you need to do that.”