Following up a deflating shootout loss with a three-day break in the schedule might not seem like a desirable itinerary for the Wild since it has to wait until Thursday to make amends for letting four leads slip away en route to a 5-4 letdown to the Flames Sunday night at Xcel Energy Center.
But a day off Monday and a couple days at the practice rink is exactly what the Wild wants right now.
“The day off is coming at a good time and then two good practices hopefully,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.
After being idle Monday, the Wild will regroup for practice Tuesday and Wednesday before traveling to Calgary for the rematch Thursday. And it isn’t tough to guess where the focus will shift in the meantime after the team was burned for two power play goals Sunday while scoring just once in its two chances.
Special teams slipped further under the microscope after this setback, particularly the penalty kill.
Since Nov.21, a span of 22 games, the Wild has surrendered 20 power play goals in 62 shorthanded situations – a 67.7 percent efficiency that ranks last in the NHL during that time.
“It's not that teams are making great plays and beating us,” Boudreau said. “We give pucks away, and they put it in the net.”
Although the power play delivered the game’s first goal, the Wild came up emptyhanded when it was given a glorious chance in overtime – getting a 4-on-3 advantage after Flames captain Mark Giordano was called for tripping.
But the setup that worked Saturday to propel the Wild to a 3-2 overtime win over the Jets wasn’t successful Sunday, and that opened the door for Calgary to prevail in the shootout.
“On the 4-on-3, [we] should have scored,” winger Kevin Fiala said.
Despite going into this mini-lull on a loss, winger Marcus Foligno expected the vibe to be upbeat when the team reconvenes Tuesday.
“I think we’re happy to get a day off here and just regroup,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing. We have two practice days, which will be nice. Tuesday will be a hard practice. I think just go back to the basics a little bit.”
It’ll be interesting to see if Boudreau reshuffles the lines at practice or sticks with the look he debuted Sunday.
Against the Flames, Jordan Greenway started on the fourth line and Ryan Donato took Greenway’s spot on the top line next to center Eric Staal and right winger Mats Zuccarello.
Greenway did score in the third period, his first in 11 games, but there was a message behind the move.
“I hate to use the word intensity, so I’ll use the word consistency,” Boudreau said when asked what’s been missing from Greenway’s game. “That’s what we talk about. When he’s a mean player every night, he’s really, really good. When he’s not, he’s average.”
Another player who capitalized on his recent change of scenery is Foligno.
He scored twice against the Flames to wrap the weekend with three goals and an assist, this after he was moved from the fourth line to the third ahead of Saturday’s game. With seven goals, Foligno’s already matched his goal output from last season.
“He’s earned it,” Boudreau said. “He works hard. He’s a great team player. He does all the right things as far as off the ice, on the ice, competing in practice, showing up for everything. So you really like to see those guys succeed and get breaks.”
One other angle to keep an eye on involves goalie Alex Stalock.
Although he was bowled over in the crease in the third period by the Flames’ Dillon Dube, the play didn’t result in a goalie interference penalty. The non-call comes on the heels of Stalock getting fined by the NHL for diving/embellishment.
“[The referees] have to make a judgment call is he diving? is he not diving?” Boudreau said. “So, they make that call. But it’s unfortunate if you get that reputation, you’re eventually not going to get the call ever.”