When the Minnesota Wild was submerged amidst a 2-8-4 stretch in late January and early February, Head Coach Mike Yeo’s message remained constant: stick with the process. So, as the Wild rides a post-All-Star Game crest (11-1-1 in its last 12), it’s no surprise that the mantra has buoyed across the waves. Thanks to the turnaround, Minnesota has paddled to the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings.
“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t mean anything, but I’m not too excited,” Yeo said. “Like I’ve said many times, 69 points does not get you into the playoffs. So the fact that we’re in the top-eight today is not really that relevant.
“We’re in a better position today than we were a week ago, but we’ve got to continue to march forward here.”
Goaltender Devan Dubnyk knows a thing or two about continuing to push ahead. After being traded by the club that selected him in the first round (14th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft last year, the netminder will face the Edmonton Oilers for the sixth time this season. He’s undefeated against the Oil, going 5-0-0 with 0.79 goals-against average, .970 save percentage and one shutout. With a win tonight, he’ll become the first NHL goalie to earn six wins in a season against a single opponent since Henrik Lundqvist went 6-0-0 against Philadelphia in 2011-12.
“It’s strange, it feels like the old Divisions; especially being the first time from last year and being with the organization for so long and playing them,” Dubnyk said. “But the games are always challenging and it’s a good time playing against your old buddies.”
On Friday, Minnesota shutout the Oilers, 4-0, Dubnyk’s sixth of the season and fifth since coming to Minnesota. However, he’s expecting a better effort from his old mates at Xcel Energy Center tonight.
“The last game in their rink, I don’t think they were too happy with,” Dubnyk said. “The previous games, I’d said before, they’d all been real tough, all one-goal games, and they played hard. So we’re definitely expecting it to be more like that.”
Dubnyk has fueled the Wild’s turnaround. Since his acquisition on Jan. 14, he’s started all 17 games, posting a 13-2-1 record with a 1.64 goals-against average and .936 save percentage. The netminder has never played in a postseason game in the NHL and knows there’s still a lot of season. While the end goal is the playoffs, the club wants to continue to ascend.
“It felt like we were winning and winning but could never break that barrier, but nothing’s changed,” Dubnyk said. “Every game is as important as when we were trying to climb…We’re not going to change anything just on the fact that we’re in eighth place, we’ve got to keep climbing.”
Dubnyk provided a much-needed stronghold in net and the rest of the Wild responded. The wins followed.
“For whatever reason we couldn’t get any traction, we couldn’t get any consistent results and we just seemed to be floundering for a little bit,” Yeo said. “When we made the trade for Duby, without even hitting the ice, that was a huge confidence booster for our group.
“Their play on the ice was a good show of that.”
Spurgeon on Injured Reserve
The Wild placed defenseman Jared Spurgeon on Injured Reserve retroactive Feb. 18. The blueliner is out with an upper-body injury and won’t join the team in Nashville. Yeo said that it’s “doubtful” he’ll ready by the time the club travels to Denver to face the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, but he also didn’t rule it out completely.
Upgrade on the App
Wild fans will have the chance to upgrade their seats with the team’s mobile app. The club is launching a Seat Upgrade Program through the app, where fans can elevate their experience by upgrading to the Lower Level or RBC Wealth management Club Level. Check it out on the mobile device under the ‘More’ tab or go here.