I can only imagine what Mike Yeo must be thinking right now when he sees (if he's even watching) such effort on the ice, such pace, such offense, such goals from guys that were so snake-bit in his last six weeks as the Wild coach.

The big question is why? Why did it take a coaching change for the Wild to suddenly look like it’s trying?

Only the players can answer that question.

But as I wrote and said on the radio/podcast in the days leading up to the end of Yeo’s tenure, it certainly looked like the players were tuning him out, maybe consciously for some and unconsciously for others. The frustration was obvious to see and obvious to hear.

No matter what Yeo said or did, it never had the desired effect and ultimately GM Chuck Fletcher pulled the trigger because Yeo’s voice was not causing a response.

That can happen when you’ve been hearing the same voice for five years, I suppose. There’s a reason why coaches – good coaches – have expiration dates in pro sports.

Now, the Wild looks like a completely different team.

The Wild, playing without defenseman Jonas Brodin and for a second straight game Marco Scandella, undoubtedly took advantage of three struggling hockey teams on the trip, but for a team that was reeling, these victories were desperately needed.

Plus, remember a month ago, the Wild was losing to bad teams and ultimately became a bad team itself.

This is shocking (and maybe explains why I’m so fried right now and why my laptop has had steam coming out of it with all the copy I’ve pounded out this week), but Yeo was fired … Saturday.

Right now, it’s Thursday night.

So five days ago, ... yet it seems like a month ago. You would have especially thought that if you roamed the Wild locker room and saw the smiles and heard the laughs and just saw the complete 180 in demeanor from less than a week ago.

It's just amazing what a week can do?

Five days ago, the Wild lost its eighth consecutive game overall, 13th in the last 14th games, and 16th in the last 20 games in 2016. It lost its eighth consecutive game at home to tie a 15-year franchise record.

Tonight, the Wild improved to 3-0 under John Torchetti with a 5-2 win. The Wild scored five goals in all three games after not scoring more than three in the previous 16 since Jan. 5.

So that’s 15 goals in three games after scoring 23 in 14 – to put it in perspective.

“What a different feeling,” Darcy Kuemper said. “We’re playing good hockey right now. We’re getting rewarded for it. It’s nice to see the smiles on everyone’s faces again and having some fun coming to the rink. It makes it a lot easier. I think the biggest thing is the way we’re working for each other right now and cheering each other on. It’s contagious.”

Why did it take a coaching change?

“I think it’s a fresh slate for everyone, a fresh start,” Kuemper said. “A lot of guys had a lot of negative things going on and it’s almost like a new season in a sense. I think it just gave everyone a chance to start fresh and just go out there and play.”

Said Charlie Coyle, “It’s a world of difference it feels like. All of a sudden we feel so good about ourselves, our confidence is growing each game. It’s a huge road trip for us.”

Why did it take a coaching change?

“I don’t know,” Coyle said. “It’s my first time going through it. I don’t know. I really don’t know. That’s a hard question to answer right now. We’re playing a complete game, guys are stepping up. Coincidence or not, but we like the way things are going right now.”

Why did it take a coaching change?

“That’s tough to say,” Zach Parise said. “I don’t want to disrespect Mike at all. He was our coach for a long time, so it’s hard to answer. But I think it’s pretty clear we’re playing with a lot more pace, it feels to me we’re playing a lot more in the offensive zone. We’re creating more turnovers and with a little excitement that we haven’t had in awhile.”

Many of the Wild’s goals during the road trip came as a result of goalmouth traffic, something Torchetti has harped on since taking over. Even after his debut win Monday in Vancouver, Torchetti said the Wild needed to get better with its “net-front presence.”

Several slumping players – Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek, Mikael Granlund and Jason Zucker, to name a few – lit the lamp during the road trip. Thursday, Pominville and Vanek scored goals in the same game for the first time since Nov. 28.

The Wild’s power play scored four goals during the road trip, including two in the same road game Thursday for only the second time this season. The Wild has scored nine power-play goals in the past eight road games after six in the first 22.

“We need everyone playing well and feeling good about their game,” Parise said. “That’s the biggest thing. We needed to get everyone feeling good about the way we’re playing individually and what we’re trying to do and I think that’s slowly coming. You can just tell by the poise we have with the puck now. We have 15 goals in three games. I mean, we didn’t score 15 goals in January (laughing). That’s what it’s about, it’s about feeling good with the puck and making plays, but at the same time, being responsible. If we turn it over, we’re getting back, we’re backchecking.”

On the change of demeanor in less than a week, Matt Dumba – one of five players with two points tonight – said, “It’s crazy. When it’s bad, it’s bad, and when it’s good, it’s fun. It’s fun playing hockey, and time flies. We’re building each day and continuing to grow our game. That first win we had, everyone came to greet Duby, but we really didn’t know what to do. It felt so long. Now that we’ve got this thing rolling, the sky’s the limit. We want to keep pushing forward.”

Torchetti said before the game he just wanted the guys to leave in a good mood. I reminded Torchetti afterward of this Jan. 2004 Florida Panthers loss in this arena. The Panthers went 0-2-1 on the trip, and after the game, GM and coach Rick Dudley bent these three medal coat hooks that were embedded in the cement wall in the locker room out of anger.

On the bus after the game, Dudley turned to the entire team and said, “Nobody better say a %&%& word the entire drive to the airport.”

If you’ve been to Edmonton, the drive to the airport ain’t short.

Torchetti said he hoped the Wild wouldn’t be forced to head to the airport that way tonight.

They didn’t.

“I’m really happy for the boys,” Torchetti said.

Why did it take a coaching change?

“It’s tough situation for me because I’m taking over for a guy I’ve known for five years, but maybe it’s a different voice, I don’t know,” Torchetti said. “But moving forward, we just have to keep working on the next game.”

How about the different in happiness in the room?

“You're never going to walk into a happy room [after eight straight losses and a coaching change], but just for them that they know that if they compete for each other — that's the thing moving forward. We just have to keep competing and battling. Like wall plays? Our wall plays were huge tonight. Everybody wanted to take a hit, everybody was driving through the puck, stick and body. Then we were getting pucks five feet outside of our blue line, five feet outside of theirs, and then we were getting the job done. That way we can stay a little more in offensive concepts.”

Why such offense the past three games, Torch?

“Work ethic, and just being above the puck,” he said. “We've got a few goals from our track, and then attacking the net from above and going. But we're being a little more poised with the puck, and when you're poised with the puck in your offensive zone play that equals better puck possession time, and great puck support.  That's just something we have t keep building in, and then battle net-coverage, meaning our net-front guy traffic, and then getting third and third chances moving forward.”

Torchetti was happy for Kuemper, who made 31 saves for his first win since Jan. 21. He said he had no shot on either Edmonton goal, which he didn’t

“He’s won a lot of games for me in the past and it’s fun to see him winning again,” Torchetti said.

The Wild played its final game ever at Rexall Place, one of my favorite barns. So much history here. The Wild closed with a 22-12-7 all-time record at Rexall Place, its most wins in any road arena. It won 11 of its final 12 games at the old barn.
 
Now the Wild has a little outdoor game Sunday. Friday will be a family skate for the “boys,” Saturday a practice, an important one. Please check out my game notebook for why.

The Wild hasn’t won four in a row this season. If the Wild loses, it would also technically extend its home winless streak to a franchise-record nine straight losses.

Plus, the situation the Wild’s at in the standings, these two points up for grabs against Chicago is significant.

“I'm just looking forward to it,” Torchetti said of his personal “home” debut in front of 50K. “For me, I'm just looking forward to the challenge of playing the Blackhawks. The Stanley Cup champions, so we have to come out, we have to be ready. Let's get the family business stuff done, have some fun tomorrow with the family, get our practice in, have some fun, and then let's get to work and get ready for the game.”

Whatever the reason -- only the players know, Torchetti has lit a much-needed torch under these guys and as of now, the season has been resurrected.

I'm back to Minnesota in the morning. Hope you enjoyed all my coverage this week and the Torchetti profiles. Hopefully you feel like you know him a lot more. We've got a ton of great stuff planned the next few days for the Stadium Series stuff.

I'll be on KFAN in the afternoon, too, and will be hosting the Russo-Souhan Show at Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Very special, shocking guest could be in the works, and if it happens, it'll be a hoot.