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Post Streak, Wild Takes Game-by-Game Approach

Challenging January schedule offers Wild little in the way of relief

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau is no stranger to lengthy winning streaks. The coach, who last month became the first in NHL history to lead three teams to winning streaks of at least 10 games, said Tuesday he's always been one to "get right back on the horse" after seeing a long winning streak snapped.

With its franchise record 12-game winning streak now a thing of the past, the Wild will head west on Wednesday with the task of finding itself after its winningest stretch this season.

While the Wild would love to start a new lengthy winning streak, the chances of a second double-digit stretch are somewhere between slim and none. Those are few and far between.

Beyond the trip west is a challenging month from an opponent perspective. January's schedule features 13 games -- 11 of which against teams currently in or competing for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

That's where the Wild must find some sort of new normal.

"It's a challenging stretch. Great teams, new year and we want to start it on the right foot," said Wild defenseman Marco Scandella. "We can't think about the streak, it's over now. We made up a lot of ground in the standings.

"But we can't think about 12-game streaks or 10-game streaks. We need to think about one game at a time like we did at the beginning of our previous streak."

Minnesota will head to San Jose to start its three-game West Coast swing against the Sharks, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks. 

While six points on the trip is the goal, a solid trip against three teams expected to vie for a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals this season might be only be three points.

The following weekend, the Wild plays back-to-back road games against Dallas and Chicago, a stretch where four points would be optimal, but two points acceptable. 

Three straight games against Central Division foes later in the month leads into the All-Star break before the Wild heads to Western Canada after the break to begin the season's virtual second half.

While breaking down the schedule can be daunting for fans, Wild forward Charlie Coyle said players rarely look that far in advance. The focus for them is not beyond this weekend, or for some, Thursday's game against the Sharks. 

"Our first game, we have to focus on that one and that's it," Coyle said. "We need to get back to the way we know how to play and what makes us successful. We started to get away from stuff but when we do that, we're tough to play against."

If the Wild is able to get back to its game, especially the stingy defensive group that was allowing little in the way of offense to opponents during the early parts of December, the Wild has a chance to get another solid point stretch going.

"We need everyone going," Coyle said. "That's what makes us successful is our depth: everyone doing their job, playing their role and doing it well."

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