10 Feb Jon Cartu Stated: Wild know recipe for playoff push: ‘Desperation’ – Twin Cit…
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau obsesses over every loss. Being a hockey lifer, it’s in his DNA.
That said, a couple of hours after Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, Boudreau was able to separate the forest from the trees.
“We gave it a really good shot, so I’m not at home pacing the floor thinking about how to get us better,” he said. “If we play like that again for these next few home games, I think we’ll get a good result.”
Coming off their most productive week of season, during which the Wild (26-23-6) secured six of points points in the gridlocked Western Conference, they are about to start their most crucial week of the season. And so it will go for the final 27 games of the season.
“That’s just the way it’s going to be the rest of the way,” goaltender Devan Dubnyk said of one big game after another at this point in the season. “Every single time we play, we have to understand how big the points are. We’re doing a good job playing with good urgency. I think we’d all agree that this is the kind of hockey we want to be playing.”
With home games against the Vegas Golden Knights, New York Rangers and San Jose Sharks this week, the Wild know they can’t afford a swoon at this point.
That was the message winger Marcus Foligno preached to anyone who would listen after Monday’s practice.
“Just playing desperate hockey is going to be huge for us,” Foligno said. “We all know our role and know what we can bring to this team. We have seen throughout this season that when we go on runs, we can go for a long time. We’re trying to do that now.”
If the Wild can string together a lengthy winning streak in the next few weeks, that might be enough to get squeeze them into the playoffs. If they can’t, they will at the very least have to alternate between wins and losses, or else run the risk of becoming irrelevant.
“Just try to win each week,” Foligno said. “That’s how we’re taking it the rest of the season. Just making sure we’re above .500 on any given week. We know points are so crucial right now.”
There’s something to be said about the desperation the Wild are playing with right now.
It’s been palpable during games, whether it’s Foligno diving for a puck to clear the zone, or defenseman Matt Dumba aggressively pinching up into the play, or winger Kevin Fiala singlehandedly taking over a sequence.
Everyone is sacrificing for the greater good of the team.
“We don’t really have too much of a choice,” Dumba said. “We have to bring that playoff intensity every game here from here on out, and I’m sure it’ll prepare us for the playoffs and make us even better in the long run. I don’t think anyone is mad or feeling sorry for ourselves about the situation we’re in right now. We know what we have to do.”
Just looking at the Western Conference playoff picture, the Wild (58 points) are still very much alive. They trail the Calgary Flames (62 points) for the the final playoff spot with only the Arizona Coyotes (61) and Nashville Predators (59) in between.
That’s motivation enough for the Wild at this point.
“You need that desperation, and it might come on more when we’re out of the playoffs and trying to get back in,” Foligno said. “It’s a continuous attack. That’s what we expect every night. We just have to keep going forward.”