Many of the Wild’s signature moments this season haven’t had a long shelf life.
That’s because they have been accompanied by a deflating defeat the very next game.
There was the feel-good victory over the Senators last month before the Wild was flattened by the Penguins in its final test before the All-Star break.
A 7-2 drubbing courtesy of the Avalanche earlier in January came on the heels of one of the team’s most complete efforts against the Sabres.
And most recently, the Wild was crushed by the Stars on Saturday after overwhelming the Western Conference-leading Golden Knights just a night earlier.
The Wild has been resilient enough to reset the following game in most cases, but the dramatic swings do seem to underscore the importance of staying levelheaded — an even-keel mind-set that could help the Wild discover the confidence it needs to repair its road record starting Tuesday at St. Louis.
“It’s about being able to park the game before, whether it was the best game of your life or worst game of your life,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “Park it because if I go out and stop 65 shots one night, it’s not going to just magically make me stop 65 the next game. You have to park it and prepare the same way. That goes for all of us.”
Of the nine times the Wild has lost by at least three goals this season, six have come after a win. All six of those defeats occurred on the road.
Not all losses have followed the same script, though; the Wild stumbled into an early hole Nov. 25 against the Blues and couldn’t recover. At Los Angeles on Dec. 5, the team fell apart in the third period and relinquished a late lead to the Kings. And an even two periods against the Predators on Dec. 30 was an afterthought once the Predators pulled away in the third.
Those struggles continued Saturday at Dallas. The team couldn’t respond once the Stars scored first — teeing off a three-goal outburst in less than three minutes en routed to a commanding 6-1 victory. That only confirmed the difficulty the Wild has had in translating its home prowess to the road, where the team is 10-15-1, with those 15 regulation losses tied for the most in the league.
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“We definitely change how we play when we get down like that on the road,” Dubnyk said. “Obviously, when you have confidence like we do at home, you just feel like you’re going to win every game so you don’t really think otherwise. That’s obviously not the case on the road right now. That’s when it becomes that much more important to just really focus and concentrate on being simple and playing our game.”
Not getting rattled is probably easier said than done, but it’s a trait that appears necessary for the Wild to give itself a chance to find success as the visitor.
And composure could also help combat the pitfalls after victories, making a steady string of wins the Wild has been seeking all season more attainable.
“We know that confidence is in us,” forward Charlie Coyle said. “We have it. We just have to carry it over. Hockey’s such a physical game, but it’s so mental, too. That’s a big thing you learn in this league; every night you gotta come ready to play and bring that focus. No matter what happens, stick on the task at hand, focus on how good we can be and what we have in here.”