ST. PAUL, Minn. The expectation was that things would be different for the Minnesota Wild this season. A team that has missed the playoffs for four straight years was the NHL's offseason darling, courtesy of the matching 13-year contracts given to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
Then something happened on the way to the Stanley Cup parade. Minnesota felt the weight of those hefty expectations early in the season while a team with more than 40 percent turnover struggled to win games and score goals.
Meanwhile, the Wild faithful were panicking. Some wondered if coach Mike Yeo was the right fit. The lines were a constant experiment, and Minnesota was hovering outside of the Western Conference playoff picture.
But Yeo could see signs of slow, steady change. These Wild are different than the groups that have missed the playoffs, and they're different largely because of their own expectations.
"I think the word expectations is something that we have to be careful of," Yeo s...