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Wild Happy, But Not Content With Record Start

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

DALLAS -- With 52 points through 41 games, a franchise record in productivity through the first half of a season, the Minnesota Wild has plenty to be happy about as it gets ready to play game 42 on Sunday.

But most importantly for Minnesota is the process by which it has traversed the opening leg of the 2015-16 NHL schedule. The Wild is attempting to forge a product conducive to winning hockey games in May and June.

"There are a lot of teams that are pushing, and a lot of teams that are competing hard right now, but I would say for the most part, our game has been pretty consistent," Head Coach Mike Yeo said on Saturday before the Wild defeated the Dallas Stars. "We've been building that consistency, and we're kind of setting ourselves up for a pretty decent second half."

Yet Minnesota isn't just content to rest on its laurels. Playing in the division that has earned the most points in the NHL this season, and having made the Stanley Cup Playoffs each of the past three years, the roadmap for Minnesota is to go further and accomplish more.

"We're on a good path, but we can't relax, and we're going to play a lot of games in the next short period of time," captain Mikko Koivu said. "So we have to keep building, and we want to get better as a team."

Between Sunday and the beginning of the All-Star Break, the Wild has eight games, or nearly 10 percent of its schedule. And from when the Wild returned from the holiday break through January 26, Minnesota will have played 16 games in 31 days, a hectic but instrumental part of the schedule.

"I feel really good about how we've come together here since Christmas," Devan Dubnyk said. "We've been playing some really good hockey, and we're starting to feel that way that you need to play to continue to win."

Watching the process play out — should Minnesota continue to add more bricks to an already solid foundation —the second half fruits could create quite the harvest. 

The record-breaking first half the Wild just completed, putting it on an 82-game pace for 104 points, accounts for leaving eight points on the table in overtime games: seven losses in three-on-three's, and one loss in a shootout.

"We talk about the overtime, and if we had a decent record in overtime right now, we're probably on pace for about a 110-point pace season," Yeo said. "Which means that we must be a pretty decent team."

But just like the product can almost be as important as the product placement (or the standings), the Wild has had overtimes it has dominated, but not received the requisite second point. 

Most recently, Minnesota lost to the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in overtime, despite doubling the Flyers in scoring chances at 6-3.

In the eight games (1-7) the Wild has had decided in three-on-three, the Wild has generated 22 scoring chances for versus 20 against, according to

"You can always get more points," Koivu said. "We recognize that, but there are going to be games when you initially don't earn the win, and there are going to be games where you feel like you should have it.

"That's going to happen over 82 games, but overall — the points in overtime takes us a little bit back — but other than that, our game has been going up, and we've been able to keep it even."

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