Adversity continues to pile up for the Wild.
Goaltender Cam Talbot has already been ruled out of the team's next game Thursday at Boston with a lower-body injury sustained during the Winter Classic on Saturday, and on Monday winger Jordan Greenway went into the NHL's COVID protocols.
Defenseman Jonas Brodin is still sidelined because of COVID-19, but coach Dean Evason said he hoped Brodin would be back on Tuesday. The team is also without captain Jared Spurgeon (lower-body injury) and center Joel Eriksson Ek (upper-body injury).
Compound the situation with a season-long five-game losing streak and a schedule that has just two games in a 10-day span following that trip to face the Bruins, and the Wild sure seems to be at a crucial crossroads.
"It's a test for us as a team," Evason said.
Before practicing on Monday, the Wild added goalie Andrew Hammond to its taxi squad from Iowa in the American Hockey League. He'll team up with Kaapo Kahkonen, who is set to take over the crease while Talbot is on the mend.
Forward Connor Dewar and defenseman Dakota Mermis are also on the taxi squad, along with defenseman Calen Addison, who was moved over from the active roster after playing Saturday at Target Field with Brodin unavailable.
But more help could be on the way from the minors, with the Wild potentially seeking a boost from its pool of prized prospects.
First-round draft picks Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi are still waiting to make their NHL debuts, but both could soon merit that opportunity with the Wild struggling and missing key players from its lineup.
In his first full season with Iowa, Boldy, selected 12th overall in 2019, has four goals and six assists in 10 games. As for Rossi, the ninth overall pick in 2020, he's recorded seven goals and 16 assists through 21 contests.
"They're doing what they're supposed to be doing, and they're on the right track and they're getting closer," General Manager Bill Guerin said last week. "I always say when a guy is in college or a guy is in juniors and he dominates that league, it's time for him to move up. If he goes to the American League and he dominates that, it's time to move up. Those guys are definitely getting closer."
Regardless of who's in or out, the circumstances are the same.
Not only is the Wild going through the roughest patch of its season right now, dropping five in a row and giving up six or more goals in three of those losses, but the calendar hasn't offered the team much of a chance to gain momentum the other way because of a rash of postponements due to COVID-19.
The 6-4 letdown to St. Louis at the Winter Classic was the team's first game in 12 days. After playing Boston and then Washington at home on Saturday, the next matchup on the Wild's schedule is the following Friday vs. Anaheim.
That gives the team time to heal up but not much action to improve its play.
"It's not familiar territory for anybody," Evason said. "Everybody's usually in the same boat. Everybody is in the same boat when you have an All-Star break, when you have a Christmas break, when you have training camp. Everybody's in the same boat. But in this situation, everybody's not in the same boat.
"We got teams playing a ton, and we got teams not playing. You just gotta deal with it and do the best, get prepared, and that's what we're trying to do … before we play that hockey game in Boston."