Many a Wild player recently can be heard speaking about playing the right way. They've had to. After a solid beginning of December, going 6-2, Minnesota has been 5-6-2 since. It hasn't been great hockey either. Even in wins, it mostly holding on for dear life, or taking advantage of some real quality goaltending.
Zach Parise has already come out and talked about the Wild not playing the way it knows it can play. Mike Yeo blames not being able to practice, and Jarret Stoll doesn't have a clue because they all are, "very, very superstitious," and they all have their, "routines," and they, "try to make sure the group is upbeat and ready to go and has energy..."
After a while, all this talk becomes just that. Talk. It is just lip service. Before and after games you can talk about what you should or should have done, but if you continue to be talk, rather than performing on the ice, then how is any team supposed to take you seriously. How are the fans supposed to take you seriously? It reminds me of a famous line from the action film "The Rock." Losers always whine about trying their best, Winners...well, you know how the rest goes.
Winning teams do the necessary things to win. If it's a lesser opponent, good teams handle them the way they are supposed to be handled. If it's a better opponent, then they raise their game and intensity to match the other opponent to keep from getting handled.
What the Wild seem to do is play to the level of its opponents. They play up to the level and can beat teams like the Blackhawks, yet are susceptible to getting beat by a low level Sabres team, or worse, an AHL version of the Devils. Mike Yeo has tried putting the forward lines into a blender, but the results are more like the wood chipper scene in the movie Fargo. "Is that your friend there in the wood chipper?" By scrambling the lines to try and find new chemistry and a spark, the team still can't seem to get up for a game that maybe isn't the Dallas Stars or some other Central division rival.
But even as the Wild are seemingly running in place, the rest of the Central Division, aside from Chicago, has been meandering along as well.
Central Division Last 10 Games
- Dallas Stars (62 pts) 4-4-2
- Chicago Blackhawks (62 pts) 9-1-0
- St. Louis Blues (57 pts) 3-4-3
- Minnesota Wild (52 pts) 4-4-2
- Colorado Avalanche (47 pts) 5-3-2
- Nashville Predators (46 pts) 2-6-2
- Winnipeg Jets (43 pts) 5-4-1