ST. LOUIS --
The Minnesota Wild
, who are 0-7-1 in their last eight road games (they've scored only seven goals in those games) and 2-9-3 in their last 14 games to fall out of the top spot in the Western Conference, are coming off a disheartening 5-2 loss at Chicago on Thursday night. Afterwards, coach Mike Yeo
and the players voiced their frustration and anger over the recent play.
It's not something a locker room wants to go through, but as forward Kyle Brodziak
said, a good kick in the pants is something that's needed at times.
"There's a lot of pride in the locker room and a lot of character," said Brodziak, who has 12 goals and 21 points in 44 games. "When you go through something like this, it's a very tough thing. I think if you stick with it and make sure your attitude doesn't change, eventually you get out of it because you only become stronger because of it. That's what we need to focus on is finding ways to get out of it. Once we do that, we'll be stronger for it.
"It's just a matter of preparing for every game. We can do a better job of preparing ourselves for the games and when we get to the game, we've just got to get back to basics and what we were doing when we had success. We were playing a pretty straightforward game going north with the puck and finding ways to get it behind their D and putting pressure on them and creating offensive zone time. I think that's a good key for us."
Yeo, in his first season as the Wild's coach, didn't reflect on the recent negatives on the road but stressed what has been accomplished in the past.
"The message for us is let's play our game," Yeo said. "We've gone into San Jose and beaten San Jose. We've gone into Detroit and beaten Detroit. It's time to go into another building and give ourselves a chance to win.
"We did those things because we played our game and we were true to the way we were supposed to play it, and that's what we need tonight. That's what we need now to the rest of the season. ... I'm very anxious to see how we come out here and play tonight."
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock and his players are very aware.
"I don't like it when teams come in and the coach is angry, the players are angry," said Hitchcock, whose team is 19-5-6 since he took over. "Usually you get their 'A' game. From an opponent's standpoint, it doesn't feel good. I think our players recognize that we're going to get their 'A' game tonight.
"It's hard when you're standing there as a coach or player to think we might not win another game for a month or we might not win a game for a week. Sometimes you get swallowed up by the day-to-day rather than the week-to-week or month-to-month. If you were to give both teams the chance to be where they're at right now based on what people said they were going to be, they'd be happy. Minny's in the playoff hunt, we're in the playoff hunt. We're both kind of where people thought maybe if we played well, we'd (be where we are). So you've got to look at that."
After taking a risk in placing left wing Colton Gillies
on waivers Friday, the Minnesota Wild
now prepare for life without him, as Gillies was claimed by Columbus Blue Jackets
The Wild was hoping to get Gillies, who had struggled with only 2 assists in 27 games, through waivers and send him to the Houston Aeros of the AHL, but that never became an option.
"I'm happy for him," Yeo said of Gillies. "He's a guy that has worked very hard for this opportunity and cares very much. I'm happy for him, but having said that for us, it is disappointing because he was still in our plans. We were hoping that he could go down there (to Houston) and get things going and would be back with us soon, but that said, it's a good opportunity for him and we're happy for him."
With their recent struggles, Yeo has opted to sit veteran defenseman Greg Zanon
and in his place will be Mike Lundin
, who has 1 assist in 12 games this season.
"It's not an easy decision," Yeo said of benching Zanon, who has 3 points in 23 games. "These are veteran guys and a guy like him ... he pays a price when he plays. He's going to play hard for the team, but even talking to him, this is a decision that we made just for tonight.
"Even going in before the game, we thought that we wanted to get Lundy in. When we looked at last game and what we need for tonight, that's the decision we made."