The Minnesota Wild return to the ice on Monday night for the first time since Jan. 28. And it comes at an arena that has a capacity of just over 5,000 and also is the home rink for Arizona State.
But the Wild are looking for points as they start the second-half push for a playoff spot in a competitive Western Conference. So, it doesn’t really matter where they play in order to get them.
“We want to embrace the arena here,” Wild coach Dean Evason said of Mullett Arena during a media availability session Sunday. “It’s not a secret (the Coyotes) have a winning record here. It’s not a NHL rink but who cares what it is. It’s a beautiful rink, we’ve heard the atmosphere is good. The energy is going to be good, we want our group to embrace everything ab+++out it and hopefully come out with a win.”
The Wild returned from their extended All-Star Game break with a team practice in Arizona on Sunday.
“They’re all excited and obviously they’re fresh,” Evason said of his players. “They look more tan than they were when they left.”
The wild beat Philadelphia and Buffalo in overtime and in a shootout, respectively, in the two games before the break. Minnesota enters Monday in third place in the Central Division, eight points behind a Dallas team that they host on Wednesday.
Minnesota also is seventh overall in the conference standings and both Colorado and Calgary are just a point behind, and the teams are tied for the second wild card spot.
The postseason race is expected to be a tight one, coming down to the final week of the season. And the Wild are aware that every point will be a big one.
“We don’t have to look any further than the standings,” Evason said. “You open the app or whatever you are looking at and it’s going to be close right to the end. We’re very aware of that, it’s been like that all year. There’s so many teams in it, we have to have desperation every single night
“It’s great that we had a break and it’s wonderful to recharge. But now you have to use every charge in the right direction and our desperation has to be with the drop of the puck (Monday) night.”
Let the (second half) games begin.