From division-only games to masked-up coaches behind the bench, every NHL team is facing the changes that come with playing during the coronavirus pandemic.
But not everyone has had the same experience.
The Wild's season came to halt on Feb. 3 after a COVID-19 outbreak closed the team's facilities, postponed six games and ultimately sidelined more than half the roster. It was the sixth time the NHL had to shutter a team since approving a shortened schedule with a unique structure to compete during the ongoing health crisis.
As a result, the still shorthanded Wild is now at the crossroads of overcoming these circumstances or having the season capsized by them — a response that begins Tuesday at Los Angeles.
"We've gotta win the games," veteran winger Zach Parise said. "We're looking up at a lot of teams right now and when you're only playing inside your division, it can go both ways. You can make up ground or you can fall back pretty quickly.
"At the end of the day, we've just gotta win the games that we're playing, keep getting better within our own team and how we're playing, and go from there."
Before getting stalled, the Wild was competitive in the newly created West Division.
Only once was the team blown out (5-1 by Colorado on Jan.30), and three of its other four losses were by one goal. Overall, at 6-5 after its last game Feb. 2 vs. the Avalanche, the Wild was sitting in a playoff position at third in the division; the top four will advance.
"The effort has been there," said Parise, who kept active during the break by lifting weights at home and skating on his backyard rink. "We've been playing hard."
Now, after being idle for almost two weeks, the hierarchy in the West is completely different and the Wild is trailing many of its division rivals.
Although the Wild has games in hand against most of the clubs it's chasing, the team won't close the gap unless it capitalizes on those games. And the Wild will try to start climbing back up the standings without its normal lineup.
After only 16 players skated Friday in the team's first practice since it was cleared by the NHL to reopen, the Wild had 20 players on the ice Saturday at Xcel Energy Center and that's the group coach Dean Evason is expecting to play Tuesday against the Kings.
Forwards Nick Bjugstad, Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Johansson were the additions; they were released from the COVID list along with captain Jared Spurgeon, but Spurgeon is dealing with an upper-body injury and didn't practice. The Wild also recalled defenseman Louie Belpedio from the minors to the taxi squad after promoting defenseman Matt Bartkowski from the taxi squad to the active roster.
Johansson, who was out with an upper-body injury before joining the COVID protocols, skated at center after starting the season at wing.
"He's comfortable playing everywhere," Evason said.
Nick Bonino, Jonas Brodin, Ian Cole, Brad Hunt, Victor Rask, Carson Soucy, Nico Sturm and Cam Talbot remain unavailable due to the protocols, but Evason said players will join the Wild on the road once they're eligible.
In the meantime, the Wild will rely on its taxi squad and call-ups from the American Hockey League to fill out its lineup — a similar position to the one the team was in when the start of the outbreak coincided with a rash of injuries and a three-game boarding suspension to Kevin Fiala.
"Guys stepped up and did a great job," Fiala said. "Now we just have to do the same thing."
And as much as this return will test the Wild, other teams haven't been derailed by their shutdowns.
Despite beginning the season late, Dallas won its first four games en route to a 5-1-1 start. Carolina also went 4-0 after its pause and Vegas relaunched with three straight victories.
In those cases, the adversity is looking like a stop sign instead of a dead end.
Soon the Wild will find out how its journey is going.
"Hopefully we can keep that trend going and play well out of the gate like those other teams did," Parise said. "So, we'll see. We'll give it our best and we'll get guys trickling back in over the next little while and hopefully get everyone healthy again and do our best to win some games."