Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 10/29/11
The Minnesota Wild skate into Saturday's game against the glitzy Detroit Red Wings at 3-3-3 on the young season in search of some offense. The Wild have been held to 2 goals or fewer in the last six games and in 7 of the 9 games this season. Unfortunatly, if they are going to break out on the offensive end, it will have to be against some pretty solid competition...the next nine games leave little room for error.Wild coach Mike Yeo spoke openly after Thursday's game about the upcoming schedule. "We realize we need to score more and I am happy with our effort. When I was hired, I knew it would take time and nobody is in panic mode around here. The next stretch of games is going to be very tough, but I'm sure our guys will be ready for the challenge."The Wild better be because this next nine game stretch starts with a home-and-home showdown with the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit got off to a fast start this season winning their first five games, however, they have lost three consecutive games including a 4-2 setback at home against San Jose on Friday night. Let's just say the Wings will be a cranky bunch tonight and Tuesday, and the Wild will need to bring their absolute best to win these games.After the two games with Detroit, the Wild come home to host last year's Stanley Cup runner-up Vancouver, and then host the always pesky St.Louis Blues.That is when the schedule really gets crazy-hard as the Wild will depart on a 10 day road trip that features 5 games. Minnesota will play at Calgary, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Columbus before they come home.Wild forward Matt Cullen knows that this stretch can make or break the first half of the season. "This next set of games is going to be really tough and we know we need to step our game up right now or we are going to find ourselves with too much work to do in the second half of the season," said Cullen.One area the Wild are trying to improve is puck-control, which always starts with being successful in the faceoff circle. Coming into the weekend, the Wild were 18th in the NHL with a 49.3 win percentage, but on Thursday night against the Ducks the Wild won 34 of 58 faceoffs for an impressive 58.6 win rate.Wild center Kyle Brodziak understands the value of winning faceoffs. "The faceoff is always an overlooked part of the game by the fans, but we know especially when you are playing tough teams like Detroit that you need to be good in that area."One trend that may give the Wild hope during the next two weeks is the fact that 7 of the 9 games they have played this season have been decided by just one goal. That means they will most likely be in every game and it might come down to goaltending. That would be good news because Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding have been rock solid all season. Backstrom has posted a goals against average of 2.30 with a snappy .912 save percentage, while Harding has a 2.81 GAA and .927 save percentage.FS North will be your home for all nine games during this critical stretch for the Minnesota Wild starting Saturday night at 6:30pm with Wild Live presented by Century Link.
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