The Wild is in the midst of a four-day break between games on its calendar. It's not anything the team isn't used to, with this being the third four-day layoff the Wild has dealt with in the past five weeks.
And after playing a back-to-back against the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues this weekend, rematches against each of the Wild's playoff opponents from last season, Minnesota surpassed the double-digit games played mark for the season.
It's provided a sample-size—albeit a smaller one—for some reflection, and one Head Coach Mike Yeo thinks has the Wild on a good path.
"For the most part, shots against is going down," Yeo said. "Against St. Louis, it's not always everything, but puck possession stats, I think we were above them last game. Scoring chances have been going down, and have been going in the right direction here."
The Wild had 53 shot-attempts to the Blues 44. In each of its past five games, Minnesota has led in puck possession after losing the possession battle in the five games prior, and over its past five games has given up 1.4 fewer shots on goal per game.
"I feel like we're getting there, but it's as much a mentality as anything," Yeo said. "We're trying to be as aggressive as possible, and push it to the limit as far as possible without getting careless. That's not an easy thing to do."
One of the biggest, early shifts that can be seen for the Wild is in its offensive and defensive production.
After allowing the sixth-fewest goals per game, with the NHL's most effective penalty kill, the Wild is 21st in the League in goals-against per game this season, with the 24th ranked penalty kill.
Offensively, it's been a reversal of scripts as well. The Wild was 12th in the League in scoring last year, and 27th overall in power play efficiency, but has become the fifth highest-scoring team this season with the 11th-best power play entering Monday.
"We've worked awfully hard to try to become a better offensive team," Yeo said. "That's helped get us through some of our areas that haven't been good enough. It's also helped contribute to some of the areas and some of the reasons that we're not as strong [defensively]."
But with a core identity that starts with strong defensive play, and a track record of excelling in that zone, Yeo is confident the Wild can improve there.
"I know that we can play that type of game, but still, that said, we have to show that we're getting better in that area, too," Yeo said. "We're trending in the right direction."
One of the areas Yeo cited as needing improvement was puck management.
"Without the puck, I like a lot of things we're doing defending-wise," Yeo said. "Occasionally, our third man can be a little bit better in the offensive zone. For the most part, a lot of the things that are coming back against us are usually as a result of something we're doing with the puck."
No Decisions For Thursday
Yeo said no conversations were had regarding whether Jordan Schroeder will remain on a line with Charlie Coyle and Thomas Vanek against the Nashville Predators, and likewise, the lineup for Thursday is not yet set.
That includes whether or not Christian Folin will play. After playing in six of the first eight games this season, Folin has been a scratch for the past three games.
"We said we don't want him just sitting around not playing for long periods of time," Yeo said. "He didn't come out based on his play, so we would like to get him back in here soon."