Monday may look like a typical day for the Wild, with players set to gather at Tria Rink in St. Paul for a morning practice ahead of a Tuesday meeting with the Blue Jackets.
But the vibe will be unique, as the team waits to see just how much it changes – if it does at all – before the NHL trade deadline expires at 2 p.m.
“Everyone knows their name is in the media and things like that,” winger Marcus Foligno said. “You've got to just try to be mentally tough tomorrow and be a professional and show up to work. That's all you can really ask for and do. Let the decisions be made by the brass. It's going to be for the betterment of the hockey team.”
The last game the team gave management to chew on before the trade window closes wasn’t the same result the Wild had on its recent two-game road trip.
After sweeping Vancouver and Edmonton, the Wild returned home to face the reigning Stanley Cup champions and had its momentum stalled in a 4-1 loss.
“He’s not going to make a kneejerk decision based off of 60 minutes of hockey,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said of General Manager Bill Guerin. “Billy knows what he wants to do. He’s smart, and he wants to make our team the best it can be for now and for later. But we certainly believe in here that this group is capable of being where we need to be at the end of the year.”
The Wild certainly got an in-depth look at how contenders are skating, with the Blues putting on a clinic Sunday – building a lead, growing it and then protecting it the rest of the way.
Not only did the team respond after the Wild cut its deficit in half, but the St. Louis penalty killers took advantage of a struggling Wild power play in the third to put an exclamation point on its victory. Goalie Jordan Binnington finished with 32 saves.
“I don’t want to sound like the ultimate optimist, but we played pretty good,” interim coach Dean Evason said. “That’s an extremely good hockey club, obviously, and their goaltender was on – which he’s been on for a long time obviously. But we had opportunities. We had looks. We had chances. We thought our game was good. But at the end of the day, we didn’t get the job done.”
The Wild’s power play ended up 0-for-4, extending an 0-for-13 funk over the team’s last five games.
“It gets frustrating, but we liked the bench tonight.,” Evason said. “There was no negativity. It got down, obviously, but we talked at the start – one at a time. This one’s over, and we’ll look forward to Columbus.”
During the game, the Blues were announced as the Wild’s opponent for the 2021 NHL Winter Classic at Target Field – an opportunity St. Louis players were excited to experience.
“It’s fun for us,” captain Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s something different. We all grew up on those outdoor rinks, so to make it a reality at this level is pretty special.”