The word "build" has been steadily making its way more and more into the Minnesota Wild's lexicon.
After a divisional win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, the Wild returned to Minnesota and is hoping to build off that performance Tuesday night when it hosts the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"We can't come into this game focused on a win; we can't come into this game focused on goals; we have to come in focused on our game, and like I said last game, when we do those things, the results will follow," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "But it's more a matter of building our game right now."
After that victory in Chicago, Ryan Suter said it was important to make sure the performance wasn't a one-off. After snapping a three-game losing streak (0-2-1) Suter said, "We finally put it together, and now we have to build on it. We can't take a step back."
Putting it together meant re-incorporating a lot of core Minnesota Wild elements that had been absent from games past.
"What we did really well was we had a great gap, and we were very strong in the neutral zone," Nino Niederreiter said. "That's something we have to focus, on getting better and better, and staying tight."
The 36 shots on goal Minnesota had against Chicago were the most the Wild have taken in a game this season. A large driver of that was more puck possession, facilitated through stronger play in the neutral zone, but the Wild was also more efficient at hitting the target.
The 56.3 percent of the Wild's 64 total shot-attempts that found their way on-goal was the first time the Wild has taken at least 60 shot-attempts in a game and found the target over 50 percent of the time.
"If you have a chance to get the puck to the net, get it to the net," Nate Prosser said. "You never know what can happen. Get bodies there, and bang away."
Toronto is a team that clogs up the space between the blue lines, where the Wild knows it will again be crisp on Tuesday to generate offense.
"Tonight we definitely have to be very strong in the neutral zone, and make sure we get pucks in deep, and work behind their [defense]," Niederreiter said. "That's something that we really have to focus on tonight, and make sure we play smarter around the crease, and the blue lines as well."
Here is the Wild's projected lineup:
Jason Zucker – Mikko Koivu – Nino Niederreiter
Zach Parise – Mikael Granlund – Jason Pominville
Thomas Vanek – Charlie Coyle – Justin Fontaine
Chris Porter – Erik Haula – Ryan Carter
Ryan Suter – Jonas Brodin
Jared Spurgeon – Marco Scandella
Nate Prosser – Matt Dumba