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Wild's Offense Staying Red-Hot Under Torchetti

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

When the Minnesota Wild defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 6-1 in the 2016 NHL Coors Light Stadium Series, a trend was beginning to form.

The Wild had improved to 4-0-0 under interim Head Coach John Torchetti, scoring 21 goals in doing so. Minnesota set a franchise record with four consecutive regulation games of five goals-for, or more.

So as questions were being posed to the Wild regarding what had led to the offensive outburst, it was more to rationalize a blip on the radar than a trend.

But six weeks later, the Wild is second in scoring since Torchetti's first game behind the bench in Vancouver. Whatever has gotten into Minnesota can officially be considered a trend.

"Everyone is just playing the game right, and they trust each other, and that's the number one thing," Torchetti said. "When everyone is working hard for each other, good things happen."

That trust and mindset is something Torchetti said he needed to re-establish when he took over, making sure the Wild's established goal-scorers carried themselves like goal-scorers.

"At the time he came in we were a team that no one wanted to be the guy that made a mistake, so we just weren't making enough plays to win games," Jason Pominville said. "You're not going to win games if you play safe and don't make plays. You're not going to score goals, and you're not going to make plays."

Now the Wild throws out words like creativity when dissecting what's changed and led to its offensive boom with Torchetti at the helm.

"Guys are playing in different spots, and we've said it before, but just a lot more creativity up front," Zach Parise said. "A lot more creativity offensively, but at the same time, we're not sacrificing anything."

Parise was named the NHL's First Star of the week on Monday after scoring five goals in three games over the past week.

He was the latest Minnesota skater to break out. Before scoring a hat trick against the Calgary Flames, Parise had two goals in his past 25 games.

"We're all competitive people, we all want to score, we all want to win, and when it's going not the way that you want it, it's difficult," Parise said. "Like I said the other day, when it shifts, it's rewarding. I've been pretty fortunate in my career to really not have experienced something like that, so it was really frustrating at times."

Torchetti said he's tried to instill into all his skaters a killer-instinct.

"You have to have that mentality every night that you're the first option, not the second, not the third, not the fourth, but you're the first option," he said.

The key for the Wild now is continuing to build with six regular season games remaining and a five-point lead on the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card spot into the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We have to keep pushing," Pominville said. "There are still a lot of things that can happen, and we have to look at this next test for us, which is Chicago, and those are always fun games to play in."

Offensively, while Torchetti said the Wild has been doing many things well, he did say it still has room for improvement, like not making level plays on zone entries, and making sure its defense is activating in transition.

"Each game is a big game, but we know that we need to keep coming out and play a good 60-minute, solid game," Torchetti said.

Forward David Jones did not practice with the Wild on Monday due to illness. Forward Ryan Carter, who has been out the past four games with an upper-body, was back in practice.

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