Nothing but one-on-one competitions and suffocating battle drills before the team scurried to the airport for a flight to Philadelphia and Tuesday’s date with the NHL’s worst team in the Flyers.
“I think we deserved that after our effort last night,” defenseman Nick Seeler said about the 5-2 loss at the Xcel Energy Center that coach Bruce Boudreau called the worst game of his three-season tenure in Minnesota.
“We knew it was going to be a tough practice. We just needed to get our compete level up, and we did that today. We’re just going to try to build off this practice and move forward.”
After earning six of a possible eight points on an Eastern Conference road trip, the Wild promptly defeated playoff nemesis Winnipeg for the third time this season, setting them up to feast on the points available against rebuilding Detroit, surrendering Philadelphia, last-place Los Angeles and free-falling Anaheim.
Wild players insisted in their postgame comments Saturday night that they did not take the Red Wings for granted, acknowledging the sting of the blowout loss at home was a valuable lesson not to overlook anyone in the NHL.
“We seem to play our best when we’re playing against the best,” said defenseman Ryan Suter. “Unfortunately, we have to change that. We have to find a way to be consistent and play our game no matter who we’re playing.”
Detroit outskated, outworked and outchanced the Wild despite playing the second of a back-to-back that started with a decisive loss to the Jets.
The Wild remained in the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference entering play Sunday, but they failed to gain ground on Colorado in that race or Dallas in the Central Division chase — both of whom lost Saturday night.
“That’s when you’re looking at all the teams and all the numbers, and you’re looking up at the scoreboard and every team you want to lose is losing and you just throw a clunker in there,” said Boudreau. “It’s very disappointing.”
Every line struggled to generate scoring chances or even complete consecutive passes as the Red Wings jumped the Wild for goals in the first minute of every period.
“If your best players aren’t your best players, you’re not going to win a game. It’s as simple as that,” Boudreau said. “When I look down and (Joel Eriksson) Ek’s (fourth) line is the best line that we have out there, then we’re in trouble.”
There is plenty of time to make hay against this week’s underlings. First, the Wild have to punch in.
“They competed a lot harder than they did last night,” Boudreau said in a final parting shot before departing for the City of Brotherly Love.