Through the early portion of the season, Head Coach Mike Yeo has maintained one of the most important things for the Wild is using each game to get better.
A 4-1-1 start is also very important, and after reviewing the Wild's Thursday 3-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Yeo liked what he saw.
"There are certain games where it looks better live, and then you watch the tape, and you realize it wasn't as good as you thought it was, and vice versa," Yeo said. "Actually last, when I watched the tape, it was pretty darn close to a 60-minute effort."
The Wild has been playing better of late, according to Yeo, who cited its last five periods—the game against Columbus, and the second and third periods Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks—Minnesota has taken steps.
"We kept [Columbus] under 10 scoring chances, which was very good," Yeo said. "The one area for sure in the first period that hurt us was our execution with the puck. It led to a lot more time in our own zone against a team that was very committed to get there."
But the Wild cleaned up those parts of its game, and erased a 2-1 deficit after the first period to go on to earn its fourth regulation victory in six games.
"You want to start off the right way," Coyle said. "It's not always going to go your way, but you have to just keep building, and get to our game as soon as we can. Some of it could be a mental thing, preparation before the game, and whatever our guys need to do to get ready for the game right from the start."
The Wild scored twice in the second period to take its first lead of the game, and one it wouldn't relinquish.
"Just getting after their defense, and getting pucks in behind them," Matt Dumba said of what Minnesota improved upon. "Creating good offensive-zone time by doing the little things right in our defensive-zone, and that's where it all starts."
Where the Wild is benefiting from now, according to Yeo and players, is a consistent schedule. Minnesota had a six-day break between its final preseason game and regular season opener.
Then after playing two games in three nights, another four-game break separated regular season games. Over the first 21 days of October, the Wild had six games on its schedule, making it tougher to get into a rhythm early in the season.
But now in the midst of a three-games-in-four night stretch, which will extend to six-in-10, there will be plenty of time to build toward a complete product.
"Just for all the players, and for me, I love just getting into game situations, playing in games," Dumba said. "You learn to live in the fire. That's awesome; it's going to be good for our team."
The only lineup change expected for the game Saturday against Anaheim is defenseman Nate Prosser's return to the lineup. Darcy Kuemper is also expected to start the second half of a back-to-back in Winnipeg against the Jets on Sunday.
PREGAME HAPPY HOUR
Start Saturday's game festivities a little earlier with our pre-game happy hour, from 3pm - 4:30pm, on top of the box office at Xcel Energy Center. A reminder that the game begins at 5pm.
Two full bars will be serving Anheuser-Busch beers, liquor and Chankaska wine, as well as 20oz bottles of soda and water as you gear up for tonight’s match-up against the Anaheim Ducks. Popcorn, chips, and candy will also be available for purchase.