The other day, Head Coach Mike Yeo cited puck management as an area that needed improvement when evaluating the Wild's start to the season.
Against the Nashville Predators on Thursday, a team that can feast off its opponent's turnovers, Yeo said taking care of the puck will be all the more important.
"Puck management and execution, those two areas," Yeo said. "If we're not managing the puck the right way, that's a team in transition; their counter-attack is so quick. The way that their defense activates, you're not going to be in a position to be able to defend."
The Wild though has found a formula to being successful against Nashville of late. Minnesota won its last three games of the season a year ago against the Predators, all at Bridgestone Arena.
"We checked well, and we're going to have to do that again," Yeo said. "I don't want to use the word 'patience' in our game, but just a very disciplined approach to how we play the game. Understanding their counter-attack, understanding how they do a good job of creating turnovers, and how they use that to get going the other way in a hurry."
What Yeo has preached all season is finding a balance between responsible defending, and not throwing too much caution to the wind for the sake of offense.
"We're not going to say that we're going to be perfect all night," Yeo said. "We have to push it, we have to be aggressive, and we have to try to create some things offensively. You just have to make sure you're not taking yourself out of your structure and making high-risk plays that are going back against you."
After losing its second overtime game of the season against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, Yeo said the Wild needed to come to a solution regarding the new format.
"I'm not pleased that we're 0-2," Yeo said.
On Wednesday, he elaborated further, though he said the Wild has had its chances at securing an extra point in each of its overtime games.
"I've looked at our overtime pretty closely, and we've out-chanced the opposition in both games that we've played," Yeo said. "We actually had better chances in both games that we played. But it's just that one breakdown that quickly goes back against us."
Many overtime goals now are born out of a counter attack. With only six skaters on the ice, there is more space, and likely more tired legs than on a 5-on-5 shift.
"The two goals that we've given up in the overtime are pretty typical to what you're going to see," Yeo said. "This is not a structure-related thing. It's going to be a quick counter attack, you've got one thing going on at the other (end), and you've got an opportunity to score a goal to try to create something, you've got a breakdown, and it's quickly going the other way and ends up in the back of your net if you're not doing the right things."
Yeo did say one area the Wild can improve on is getting players onto the ice.
"The one area for sure that we have to get better at is our changes," Yeo said. "It's like we're waiting, we're extending our shifts, and we're forced into bad changes; we're forced into spending long shifts. It's real hard when you're tired to get back in possession of the puck."
Blaze Organge Hat Giveaway
On Thursday against Nashville, all fans in attendance will receive a blaze orange Gander Mountain hat. The Minnesota outdoor-based retailer is launching its annual “Hunt with the Wild” sweepstakes, teaming with the Wild, Pheasants Forever, and Federal Premium Ammunition.
Wild Radio Network
Wild Weekly will feature Erik Haula tonight on KFAN 100.3 at 7:30 p.m.