With 22 games separating the Minnesota Wild from the NHL calendar's finish line, the Wild is hoping to smooth an inroads that will extend past the yellow tape that signals an end of the season for 14 of the league's 30 teams.
The Wild starting pacing its way toward a longer season when interim Head Coach John Torchetti took over last Monday. Minnesota reeled off four straight victories, a season high, but then suffered its first bit of adversity under its new bench boss with a 4-1 loss against the New York Islanders on Monday.
"It's a bump in the road," Torchetti said. "I'll tell them what I feel we have to do better next game."
This is the timeframe the Wild has to work under. Trailing the Colorado Avalanche by two points for the second wild card spot into the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the finish line is inching closer, and the Wild wants to sprint its way into the top eight.
"We don’t' really have a choice," Chris Porter said. "Every game is a playoff atmosphere, playoff mentality; we need two points every night."
Such is the situation for a team in need of some jockeying when it comes to the pecking order in the Western Conference. For the Wild, striding more effectively in Saint Paul is one of its next hurdles.
"I don't think anybody will be surprised that, if we don't pick it up here at home, we probably won't make it (to the playoffs)," Jarret Stoll said. "That's the honest truth. We have to pick up our home record, and our home game."
Minnesota's win in Minneapolis in the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game on Sunday technically snapped an eight-game home losing streak. But the Wild hasn’t won at Xcel Energy Center in its past nine tries, dating back to Jan. 7.
When the Wild last won at home, on Dec. 28, Minnesota sat in third place in the Central Division, four points behind the second-place St. Louis Blues with three games in hand.
The Wild has currently played two fewer games than the Avalanche, but isn't expecting that alone to buoy its postseason hopes.
"You always want to be a good home team, and we haven't done that as of late," Charlie Coyle said. "Right now, we have to focus on the road, heading down there, and getting those games. We have to get back to playing our game, and our style of hockey here, and take care of business in our building."