The Wild are the winningest team in the NHL over the last month, and they're not even at full strength.

Imagine what they could be capable of when they get healthy and return three of their best players.

Intriguing, right?

"We can do a lot," Marcus Johansson said. "We're trending in the right direction, and it's fun hockey to play right now."

Since Nov. 28 when they commemorated new bench boss John Hynes' debut with a victory that snapped a seven-game losing streak, the Wild are a league-best 11-3, the 22 points they picked up along the way lifting them from draft lottery candidate to wild-card contender.

This turnaround is indicative of the style Hynes has implemented since replacing Dean Evason, the longtime coach eliciting more direct, disciplined and decisive hockey from the Wild. But much of that progress was and is still being accomplished despite injuries to key contributors.

"Is it huge to be doing this right now with guys out?" Marcus Foligno said. "Yeah because usually when you have a full lineup, you're going to be a better hockey team. But right now, everyone's playing their parts, winning 1-on-1 battles, and it's been nice."

A 6-3 romp against Detroit on Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center might have been a preview of what the Wild can expect once they heal up.

Ryan Hartman was back in action after sitting out two games with an upper-body injury, an issue he previously tried to play through before taking a timeout, and his line with Johansson and Marco Rossi was a force vs. the Red Wings: The unit scored three times including twice in a 2 minute, 7 second blitz by the Wild that erased a 2-2 tie early in the third period. Hartman's goal kickstarted that outburst, and he's capitalized in each of his last three games.

"Felt like I didn't miss a step," Hartman said. "Playing with those two, they see the ice really well. They made a lot of great plays, and we were able to be the difference."

While Hartman was sidelined, the Wild were sans two of their offensive leaders.

Mats Zuccarello's 28 points are still the second-most on the team even though an upper-body injury has kept him out of commission for the past five games.

Then there are the absences on defense.

Jonas Brodin has been idle since suffering an upper-body injury Dec. 8 at Edmonton, and captain Jared Spurgeon has missed the last seven games with a lower-body injury.

Actually, the Wild haven't had everyone available since Hynes took over due to injury or suspension, but they've lost only once since skating without Brodin, Spurgeon and Zuccarello (4-3 at Pittsburgh on Dec. 18).

"Anyone who comes in the lineup understands how Hynesie wants us to play, and I think gets it and moves forward with it," Foligno said.

Dakota Mermis and Daemon Hunt (who was sent back to the minors on Thursday) have filled in when called upon, while veteran Alex Goligoski has taken on more minutes.

But the most stabilizing presence on the blue line has been rookie Brock Faber, who's averaged almost 30 minutes a game since Spurgeon exited the back end — about six minutes more than Faber's season average up to that point.

As for the offense, Kirill Kaprizov has a team-high five goals and nine points over the five games the Wild have been without Brodin, Spurgeon and Zuccarello, but he hasn't been the only catalyst.

Johansson has six points and Rossi five, with Johansson delivering three goals in the last four games after shedding a 24-game drought. Foligno has two goals in his past two games, and three of the Wild's four lines were responsible for at least a goal against Detroit.

"It's nice to roll them over and have every line going," Foligno said. "It sets the next line up for success. That's been the biggest change: Every line has an impact on the game, and it's nice to see."

While Hartman's return trimmed their injury list, the Wild still have more recovering to do.

Spurgeon was a full participant at practice on Thursday, and Hynes said he'd probably know after Friday's session whether Spurgeon would suit up on Saturday at Winnipeg; Brodin and Zuccarello are considered week-to-week, although Zuccarello has skated.

Whenever they're ready to play, the trio could help the Wild continue their climb up the Western Conference standings.

But if they ever do catch up to a playoff spot, the Wild will have to credit the poise they played with when they were shorthanded.

"Guys have stepped up, and eventually these guys will come back," Hynes said. "So, I think the potential of the team looks good."

Iowa Wild add assistant

Cody Franson will join the Iowa Wild as an assistant coach to Brett McLean. The former NHL defenseman replaces Pat Dwyer, who was promoted to the Wild when Hynes became coach.

Franson, 36, played professionally from 2007-22 after being drafted in the third round by Nashville in 2005. He had 212 points in 550 NHL games with the Predators, Maple Leafs, Sabres and Blackhawks.