EDMONTON – There's a contagious habit making its way through the Minnesota Wild locker room. And no, it's not a reference to the Wild's three-game winning streak, but that is one of its symptoms.
"What a different feeling," Darcy Kuemper said after backstopping the Wild to a 5-2 victory on Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers. "It's nice to see the smiles on everyone's faces again, and having some fun coming to the rink. It makes it a lot easier."
The frustration and sorrow that was the Wild's postgame has gone in the way of a giddy energy of a team reestablishing its confidence, and earning some points in the standings.
The frowns, quite literally, have been turned upside down.
"It's a world of difference, it feels like," Charlie Coyle said. "All of a sudden we feel so good about ourselves, our confidence is growing each game, and it's a huge road trip for us."
It concluded with a win at Rexall Place, capping off a perfect, three-game swing of Western Canada, keeping the Wild unbeaten under interim Head Coach John Torchetti.
"A lot of guys had a lot of negative things going on, and it's almost like a new season in a sense," Kuemper said. "It just gave everyone a chance to start fresh, and just go out there and play."
On Saturday night, after losing its eighth consecutive game, and 13 of 14, the Wild made a coaching change. Whether that was the impetus for Minnesota's reversal of fortunes is up for interpretation. But what no one in the Wild's locker room will debate is how much lighter the mood is than it was five days ago.
"It's just kind of a fresh slate for everyone," Kuemper said. "A fresh start."
Now the smiles are contagious, as is the work ethic and pace the Wild is playing with. Everything about the Wild's step is noticeably peppier both on and off the ice, and the results have followed.
"Obviously we've played good, and there's been a lot of energy on the bench, and mentally it's always different," Mikael Granlund said. "All the guys have stepped up a little bit, so let's just try to keep this going."
Kuemper earned his first win in 29 days on Friday, getting to latch onto those good vibes and positive energy.
The Wild's losing streak was snapped Monday night against the Vancouver Canucks, with Kuemper watching from the bench, as the relief set when the final buzzer groaned.
"That first one, that first win we had, we all came to greet [Devan Dubnyk] but we didn't really know what to do," Matt Dumba said. "It felt so long. Now that we've got this thing rolling, the sky is the limit, and we want to just keep pushing forward."