The Minnesota Wild believes it’s better than its current 15-11-1 record and 10th spot in the Western Conference standings indicates. However, the club needs to play up to its lofty standards. That was the message during today’s Wild practice in Glendale, Arizona at Gila River Arena before taking on the Arizona Coyotes tomorrow night at 7 p.m. State of Hockey Time.
“We’re tired of being on the cusp, tired of being close,” Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said. “We need to demand better than what we’ve been bringing.
“We’re better than what we’ve been showing, consistently.”
The Wild suffered another close defeat yesterday, a 2-1 loss at the fins of the San Jose Sharks. It was the team’s seventh one-goal loss of the year (one coming in a shootout).
“We could look at last game and say we were close, but we can’t accept saying that,” Yeo said. “I don’t think we should accept being close.”
Minnesota has seemed to rally when it’s faced adversity and Yeo believes the team needs to realize it’s in a tough spot now.
“It would be a mistake on our part to sit here and think that our backs aren’t against the wall a little bit here,” Yeo said. “We’re behind. We’re not at the level and we’re not where we want to be right now.
“Again, I think it comes down to we should not be accepting of where we are right now and we should demand more.”
The team is looking to bring that attitude and mentality to the rink every day.
“We’ve got to get consistency,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. “We play good at certain times and we have to be consistent in how we play if we want to be a good team.”
Minnesota will be without Marco Scandella, who finishes out his two-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of the New York Islanders’ Brock Nelson on Dec. 9. Even without one of its top four defensemen, Yeo said the club couldn’t use that as an excuse.
“Of course that’s a factor,” Yeo said. “Bottom line is that Marco’s not in the lineup tomorrow and we have to be ready to play a really good game.
“We’ve got a lineup tomorrow that’s coming in here and capable of winning.”
Tomorrow’s opponent, the Arizona Coyotes have faced its own struggles. The Yotes are 2-7-1 in its last 10 and are in second-to-last place in the West (10-16-3). Despite its record, Yeo believes the Coyotes can be a dangerous team, but wants his club to concentrate on its own game.
“If anything, you look at their last game and I think they’re going to be ready to come out and we better be ready for that,” Yeo said. “We’ve got to focus on ourselves. We’ve got to make sure we’re looking at our game and saying we can’t accept anything less than 20 guys and anything less than our best game.”
The Wild jumbled the third and fourth lines in practice today. Charlie Coyle moved to center between Justin Fontaine and Nino Niederreiter, while Erik Haula centered Kyle Brodziak and Ryan Carter.
Here’s how they shook up during in-zone line drills: