ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — If the Wild are going to pull themselves out of the hockey equivalent of quicksand, General Manager Chuck Fletcher said Saturday the players have to start playing “the right way.”
But after 10 losses in their last 11 games, they return home with a lot more questions than answers.
Coach Mike Yeo made it clear Monday, if it wasn’t already, that he was sending a message to the team by benching Thomas Vanek and Jason Zucker on Saturday in St. Louis.
“We were going down a path that wasn’t good enough,” Yeo said. “And when that happens, we have to be prepared to do what’s necessary.”
But after they went out and got beat 4-1 later that night, it was worth asking Yeo if he worried that message wasn’t received.
“No,” Yeo said. “I think if you watched the game you’d say that the message was received quite well. There was a much different feel to that game, there was a different feel in the dressing room, in the locker room, on the bench. And obviously the result wasn’t what we were hoping for, but I knew that we were not going to snap our fingers and then just go win 5-1 against a team like that.”
Forward Zach Parise echoed that sentiment, saying despite the loss, he saw something in his team he hadn’t seen in far too long.
“I thought the enthusiasm, the energy was there, and that hasn’t been there for a little while,” Parise said. “And it was there, even though we were chasing the game a little bit when they got the lead. The energy that we haven’t had in a long time was back, and hopefully it’ll be there again tomorrow.”
Finding positives in a 4-1 loss. Yes, that’s where things are right now with the Wild. But they’ve have to start somewhere, right?. And at least they believe it’s a step in the right direction.
“We did take some steps, I think,” forward Charlie Coyle said. “We had a number of shots, we had opportunities.”
Yeo balanced that positivity with the fact that it’s still not good enough.
“We don’t want to be satisfied or pleased with any time you lose a hockey game,” he said. “But it’s about building our game back, it’s about building the trust in each other, and that was a step. And now we have another opportunity tomorrow.”