Wild: No time to wallow in the mire

Wild coach Dean Evason summed up his team’s position on Saturday, and it seemed as if he couldn’t quite believe it.

“What have we lost, six games in a row?” he said to reporters after a morning practice at TRIA Rink. “We’ve lost six games in a row.”

And to be honest, disbelief isn’t an inappropriate reaction to Minnesota’s 5-9-4 start to the 2023-24 season. Even if you suspected the Wild would miss Matt Dumba and struggle with its $14.7 million in dead salary cap burden, the fourth-fewest points in the NHL seems severe.

Evason knows it looks bad, is bad, but said wallowing in the misery of being seven points out of a playoff spot at Thanksgiving isn’t the answer.

“We had a good chat with the group today,” he told reporters, “and I don’t know what you guys are writing or talking about, but everything’s absolutely negative around everything. But we can’t be negative. If we just continue to stay that way, then we’re not going to get out of this.”

Alternate captain Marcus Foligno said the same after Friday night’s 3-2 loss to Central Division rival Colorado at Xcel Energy Center.

“We’ve just got to keep our head down and keep moving forward,” said Foligno, who missed Saturday’s practice for what Evason called maintenance. “”It’s cliche to say that stuff, but it’s still too early. We know that something’s gonna pop here, something’s gonna go and we’re gonna start having more wins.”

After practice in St. Paul, the Wild left for Detroit, where they will play the Red Wings in a 1 p.m. puck drop Sunday. There are stats to explain where the team is, good and bad. They still have the NHL’s worst power play (67.2 percent) but have tightened defensively, their goals-against down after holding opponents to an average of 2.75 over their past four games.

The most important truth, however, is that the Wild haven’t won a game since Nov. 4, when they beat the Islanders in New York, 4-2, on Nov. 7.

“It can’t continue,” Evason said. “We have to believe that it’s not going to, but we have to do things in order to push ourselves to get out of this. And our group will do that.”

Goligoski back in lineup

There were a couple of tweaks during practice, most notably Alex Goligoski captaining the second power-play unit, meaning the veteran defenseman will play Sunday for the first time since Oct.14. He lined up Saturday with fellow veteran Zach Bogosian.

“I’m feeling good health-wise and everything,” said Goligoski, who had his fibula broken by a shot during an Oct. 16 practice in Montreal. “It sucks not playing and doing the rehab and everything, but I’m excited to get back in and hopefully start a spark and get something going.”

At this time last season, the Wild went on a 15-5-0 streak to pull back into playoff position and finished the regular season with 103 points, the fourth-best finish in franchise history.

“I have no doubt that at a couple of times during the season, we’re going to have a couple of runs this season where he get on that roll and win eight, 10 games in a row,” he said. “There’s a lot of character in this room.”

Evason and his staff also swapped forwards Pat Maroon and Freddy Gaudreau on Saturday, moving Gaudreau to the fourth line with Connor Dewar and Brandon Duhaime, and Maroon up with Ryan Hartman and Marcus Foligno.


Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury missed practice because of an illness. Evason said he expected Foligno to be available on Sunday but he was unsure about Fleury and said the team was debating calling up a goaltender to back up Filip Gustavsson.

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