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Wild's struggles bewildering

ST. PAUL -- The Wild's seventh straight loss Thursday meant another poor night's sleep for the team's coach, whose job security wanes with each defeat.

ST. PAUL - The Wild’s seventh straight loss Thursday meant another poor night’s sleep for the team’s coach, whose job security wanes with each defeat.

Mike Yeo drove dreary-eyed to the hockey rink Friday morning “ready to pretty much do whatever we have to do.”

The problem is it’s not clear what the Wild have to do to get back on track.

For the first time since this six-week losing skid began - the Wild (23-21-10) have lost 12 of their past 13 games - the team is in even worse position than it was last year after its hit bottom in mid-January.

At this time a year ago, the Wild held the second wild card spot. Entering Friday, the Wild were two points out of that final wild card spot after seeming like a lock for the playoffs just a month ago.

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Compared to last season’s slump (and the similar midseason slump the year before that), this one seems worse. Last season, the team rebounded when they fixed their goaltending problem by acquiring Devan Dubnyk in early January. This season, there is no magic bullet.

“It was all happy times last year after I came here,” Dubnyk said. “But every season presents it’s own new challenges, and the only answer is us playing better.”

After Thursday’s 4-3 home loss to the Washington Capitals, Wild players and coaches seemed out of answers.

Even Yeo, who has searched for positivity after each of the past three losses, struggled to find something good to say until it was pointed out to him that he seemed dejected.

“Heck yeah, of course,” he said. “But there will never be a time where I start feeling sorry for myself, or for our group. I’ll never stop trying to find a solution.”

He was more upbeat after talking things over with players later Friday.

“In talking with the guys, I’m far more encouraged this afternoon than I was this morning,” he said.

Still, Saturday’s matinee against the Boston Bruins (29-19-6) carries plenty of importance, a final chance for the Wild to show improvement in front of their home fans before next Sunday’s long-awaited outdoor game against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, the Central division leaders with a 36-18-4 record.

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Surely, the Wild’s positive message to fans after each game is wearing thin for a fanbase that counting not just on a fourth straight playoff berth but a run through the playoffs this season.

“These are good teams we’re playing. I’m not saying we’re not good enough to compete with them, that’s for sure,” Yeo said. “Right now, that’s where we’ve gotten to, a point where we have to build it back piece by piece. My sense is that it’s coming.

“We have two choices. We can quit and abandon everything we’re doing, or we can keep building onto what we have and see where that takes us. That’s the spirit and fight I will bring, and that’s the spirit and the fight that I know our leaders and the character of the guys in the room will bring. We’re very disappointed with the way things have gone. But how you react is far more important that what has happened.”

SPURGEON DOUBTFUL

Yeo said injured defenseman Jared Spurgeon was “questionable to doubtful” for Saturday’s game. Doubtful is more like it since the blue liner did not skate Friday and the team won’t have a pregame practice before its lunch-time puck drop.

“But knowing him, I’m not ready to rule him out,” Yeo said. “If he’s ready to come out and compete and battle at the level that he’s capable of, then we’d love to put him in the lineup. But if he’s not there, then we’re confident with the group that we have too.”

Related Topics: MINNESOTA WILD
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