The Wild spent 60 minutes Sunday afternoon with the team’s part-time skating and skills instructor, Andy Ness, trying to work out the kinks that have led to four consecutive losses and back-to-back shutouts.
Nashville shut out the Wild 3-0 Saturday night, and less than 12 hours after returning home the players were back in skates at Mariucci Arena, where an extra goal on the ice provided as many puck-handling and shooting opportunities as possible.
The Wild (22-15-8) has scored only three goals during its losing streak and has averaged just 1.67 non-empty-net goals in the past 15 games.
“We haven’t had a practice like this in quite a while, and so I think it was a good change of pace,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said.
“There’s not a kind of game plan or sort of mental trick of trying to trick the guys into feeling confident. We know the one way to feel confident is to work for it and to earn it, and we’ve done that in the past.”
Veteran forward Thomas Vanek said he isn’t too concerned about the Wild’s skid.
“We believe and we know that we’re a good team, but we’re going through a stretch right now where too many of us are pressing and trying to do the right things and trying to score,” Vanek said. “It was good to just touch the puck a little bit and do some fun little drills and kind of get the positive attitude back [Sunday].”
Reilly goes back to Iowa
Rookie defenseman and former Gophers standout Mike Reilly was reassigned to Iowa of the American Hockey League on Sunday morning after playing 10-plus minutes Saturday.
Reilly played four games with the Wild after being called up Jan. 8 and made his NHL debut in a 2-1 victory at Dallas on Jan. 9.
Yeo hinted that the current state of the team isn’t ideal for a young player.
“We just want him to play. [Iowa is] playing [Sunday] and we’ve liked what he’s done,” Yeo said. “It’s a bit of a tough environment for us right now as far as losing some hockey games and facing some adversity. It’s a bit of a tougher thing obviously for a younger player than it is for a player who’s been there and experienced something like this.”
Yeo said he wasn’t sure whether another defenseman would be added to the roster for the upcoming three-game road trip to California.
Center Ryan Carter skated during Sunday’s workout, but his lingering hand injury kept him from doing much more. He has missed the past three games.
“He’s still not handling the puck a whole lot, so he’s out for right now,” Yeo said. “He’s just keeping himself in shape and keeping skating. Once his hand feels better, then he’ll be back.”
Carter scored one of the Wild’s two goals in its last victory Jan. 9 at Dallas.