By Craig D. Schroepfer
The Minnesota Wild spent Thanksgiving with two home games sandwiched around the holidays, playing Phoenix on Wednesday and Colorado on Friday. The end result being a 3-1 loss to both hockey clubs.
That’s right, two games, two different teams, same result.
The frustrating thing is that both games followed the exact same script. Minnesota would get off to a slow start and fall behind in the game 2-0 before getting a goal from Dany Heatley to make it 2-1. The Wild would pull the goaltender to get the extra attacker on the ice only to give up an empty net goal to make it 3-1.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
After the loss to Colorado you could sense the frustration from the players in the Wild locker room during this three game losing streak.
“We played a soft hockey game.” Wild forward Zach Parise said. “We cheat, we turned the puck over and we turned away from everyone. It slows us down. We can’t get any speed generated and we keep back checking.”
Wild forward Dany Heatley added “We’ve had some nights where we haven’t been hard on the puck and as honest as a team on other nights we our goalie has had to bail us out. Eventually that’s going to catch up with you.”
In his postgame press conference, head coach Mike Yeo addressed the play of the Minnesota Wild during their three game skid. “We seem to think we are pretty good, that we don’t need to do the things that brought us success. Hopefully we are learning a lesson here. It’s on all of us right now.”
The frustrating part of this losing streak is that all three losses have come against teams in the Western Conference you can’t afford to give away points to right now.
The loss to St. Louis was against a team that could be a possible playoff opponent in the first round. The loss to Colorado was against a team that the Wild are battling for 3rd place and an automatic playoff berth in the Central Division. The loss to Phoenix was to a team that the Wild could be battling for a wild card playoff berth in the Western Conference if they don’t finish in the top three in the Central Division.
That’s six points the Wild have given away this week which in the Western Conference could mean the difference between playing hockey and watching hockey in the spring.
Now there is four months left in the season which means there is a lot of hockey to be played. There is plenty of time to get things back on track. However you don’t want your bad habits taking over. Once they do, you end up digging a hole you almost always can’t get out of.
The Wild know what they are doing wrong and they know what they need to do to fix the problem. If Minnesota is going to turn things around they better do it quickly, they play again in Denver later tonight.