The week started with the Wild in apparent conflict or at least slumping, which history tells us is the exact moment the Wild is prepared to make a move in the right direction.
Sure enough, here it is Friday and Mike Yeo’s practice shouting from Monday — which very well could have been a shrewd calculated move, even if Ryan Suter and Zach Parise very well could have seen it as such when reacting as they did — is becoming a quickly fading memory.
While it would be a misstep to say all is well with the Wild after victories over Chicago and Toronto, it would not be wrong to say this: all is back to normal, on multiple fronts.
First off, this is a group accustomed, for better or worse, to performing at its best just when everything appears to be at its worst. It can be maddening for fans and maybe even frustrating for Yeo that the Wild is in need of these wakeup calls, but there are far worse things than being resilient. When Minnesota needed to get points virtually every night in the last half of last season, players delivered. Losers of six of seven this year before the Chicago game, the ship again was steered to safety. Maybe this is just what we should expect? This is the minimum of what the Wild is.
Second, the Wild in its past two games has returned to winning games with defense and goaltending, two calling cards that predate Yeo and figure prominently in franchise history. Offense is nice, but as Yeo said Friday after practice, a team must be able to win in a variety of ways to get on a roll.
Before a 2-1 win over Chicago and last night’s 1-0 win over Toronto, the Wild this season was 1-8 when scoring two or fewer goals. Minnesota had been playing a lot of games with 6-8 combined goals scored, again with some success but against the grain of the core foundation of the team. A stretch of 8 wins out of 10, say, needs some 4-3 up-and-down wins just as much as it needs some 2-1 grinders.
If that was the message Yeo was able to hammer home Monday, then kudos to him.
Up next is a home-and-away set with Colorado, the last place team in the Central but a squad boasting back-to-back 2-1 wins of its own after having less success in high-goal affairs. Maybe game flow will dictate back-and-forth action. Maybe game flow will dictate tight checking, with goals at a premium.
Either way, the same amount of points are at stake. And it feels like the Wild is more equipped to win either battle than it was at the start of the week.