Nearing the NHL's Christmas break, the Minnesota Wild has already had a rollercoaster season. They starting 1-2-2 and then got hot, winning 10 of the next 12. That surge has led to a amusement park-worthy free fall with 10 losses in their last 15 games.
Tuesday's 4-0 home loss to the San Jose Sharks is the latest of the losses. But what's up with the woes?
"We're playing from behind a lot. We're playing from behind it feels like almost every game," said Wild forward Eric Staal following the loss, via Wild.com. "It's too hard in this league to continually play from behind."
Wild scribe Dan Myers came up with some incredible statistics that correlate to Minnesota's inability to battle back from early deficits. He notes that the Wild is 6-3-1 when scoring first this season and 6-1-1 when leading after the first period. Last season, they were 30-6-4 when scoring first, and just as good in the two seasons prior when notching a game's first goal.
Head coach Bruce Boudreau said slow starts and a lack of ability to find the back of the net is costing his club.
"It is. We've got two more games before Christmas. We've got to start playing 60 minutes and not 45 or not 50 and not 52," he said. "To win and to win consistently, that's what you've got to do. And obviously at some point pretty soon we're going to have to put a run together of five or six or seven games together."
On Nov. 12 the Wild were 11-4-2 and they had the third-most points in the NHL. Since then they've gone 6-10 and have accumulated just 12 points, the second fewest in the entire league over that stretch. Only Philadelphia (11 points) has been worse.
They find themselves entering play Wednesday with a 17-14-2 record, and their 36 points put them fifth in the Central Division, 10 points behind division leaders Winnipeg and Nashville and three points from Edmonton in the wild-card race.