But a funny thing happened on the way to starting to save the season. They didn't.
The Wild allowed 5 goals in 25 and a half minutes, and ended blowing their game 5-4. They didn't even net the loser point that would have kept Dallas (who still has two games in hand on the Wild) behind them in the standings. 10th. 10th in the Western Conference.
That's just great.
This season is slipping, which has been a familiar sight for Wild fans as of late. This happened two years ago, where a Cinderella team turned into an injured, AHL-level pumpkin. This happened last year, with the Wild turning an almost-certain playoff position into a nail-biting race that had to be won on the last day (and don't even get me started on that edmonton game).
This year? Their swoon over the last month or so has taken them from approximately a 75% chance of making the playoffs to a 7% chance emerging on top of the playoff bubble.
With all this happening, and the very ability of the Wild making the playoffs hanging in the balance, can Mike Yeo survive this slump with his job intact? Should he survive it?
Here's what we know:
Here's what we don't know:
So what do I think? If Yeo can't get to the end of this homestand without falling further out of a playoff spot, I think he should go. This is the point where I add that Yeo, as far as I can tell, is a good guy, whose hire I supported, and who I wanted to return after last season. I want to make it clear that I, in no way, would relish him losing his job.
But at some point, it's just about business. Risk and reward. Last night for the game recap, Emilie stated
That may be true, but if the Wild fall flat against St. Louis on Tuesday, what's the downside to making a change? A loss against St. Louis would be the Wild's 13th loss in 18 games. That's a stretch of almost a quarter of an 82-game season where the Wild has played like one of the worst teams in the league. For a team whose expectations are that of a playoff team, that's not an acceptable stretch. Can it get worse than it is right now if you bring in another voice?
Especially when you consider the history of these kinds of swoons these last few years. Clearly, Yeo's rookie year wasn't his fault. It was a team that was over-achieving mightily to begin with. Last year? A bit iffy. It was hard to watch, but injuries like Pominville's hurt, and the bottom-end defensive options were lacking, and the Wild did (just barely) recover from their slump to make the playoffs. But this year? It's now happened enough that I think you can start questioning whether a pattern exists. Maybe these slumps would have happened with any coach, but it doesn't seem that Yeo has an exceptional ability to stop the avalanche when the losses start to pile up.
Again, I do not relish seeing a guy like Mike Yeo lose his job. I like what I've seen from him, and I like rooting for his story. He coached the Houston Aeros to a Calder Cup Final appearance, impressing Chuck Fletcher enough to hire him when the industry expected Fletcher to hire a more experienced coach. Who doesn't like an underdog? And it's not clear if he's responsible for the Wild's lagging performance, or at least to what extent he's responsible for.
But what is clear is that for the second time in 8 months, Mike Yeo will be coaching for his job, and the Wild's playoff lives. Let's hope that he can find the answers and right the ship.