ST. PAUL — Wild coach Bruce Boudreau likened the team’s 0-3-0 start this season to someone hitting a shot into the water during a round of golf.
"They have to let that go and play the next shot," Boudreau said. "If they keep hanging on to that, then all of a sudden it turns into another bad shot before they wake up and start going."
Nobody knows this more than PGA Tour veteran Sergio Garcia. He infamously hit five consecutive balls into the water at the Masters, taking an 8-over on No. 15, squandering the chance to defend his title.
As the Wild prepare for their home opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, Oct. 12, at Xcel Energy Center, they are focused on not being like Sergio Garcia.
One could say they’ve hit a few shots into the drink already, dropping consecutive games to the Nashville Predators, Colorado Avalanche and Winnipeg Jets to open the 2019-20 campaign.
Boudreau hammered home the fact that he’s seen a lot to build on in those games.
"We have had five-minute (stretches) in all three games where we’ve sort of gotten goals scored against us and gone, 'Aww. Heck,'" Boudreau said. "Then by the time we start to (respond), they score another goal. We have to be more determined when bad things happen to us."
It’s easy to forget that the Wild were in all three games. They held a one-goal lead over the Predators before allowing three goals in six minutes down the stretch, and they allowed the Avalanche to strike with two goals in less than two minutes to take an early lead.
On Thursday, they battled back to tie the score with the Jets, 2-2, before allowing two goals 28 seconds apart.
"It feels like we just pause for a bit in every game and then they score," winger Kevin Fiala said. "We have to play 60 minutes to win games."
It’s been a balancing act for a coaching staff trying to decide whether to pat the players on the back or kick them in the butt.
"I thought after three road games in three tough buildings against three potential playoff teams that this wasn’t the time or the place to really start (being negative)," Boudreau said. "If it continues, obviously then the demeanor will be changed a little bit from the coaching staff."
In the meantime, it’s on the players to figure it out for themselves, something they plan to do starting with the home opener.
"We have a good team coming in and our schedule isn’t going to get any easier," winger Zach Parise said. "We don’t have that time to dwell on where we are or what’s happened. We have to look at the big picture here. We have played three games. Take a deep breath. We will be fine."
Mats Zuccarello, Jason Zucker and Luke Kunin got maintenance days off Friday. All players are expected to be available for Saturday’s home opener.