NEWARK, N.J. – The Wild dropped all three games on their last road trip, and they have only one victory in almost two weeks.
The Wild have also given up the most goals in the NHL, and the Wild's penalty kill is near the bottom, too.
But this isn't the Wild that was expected to be in action.
"Obviously, everybody would like their full lineup," coach Dean Evason said. "We don't have it. So, we've got to find a way."
The first month of the season is wrapping up, and the Wild have yet to be at full strength — a reality that gets louder when they begin to play better but still struggle to pick up points.
When will the Wild finally heal up?
A healthy team isn't imminent, but at least one reinforcement could be on the way.
The plan is for Matt Boldy to participate in the team's next practice Wednesday, and then "we'll make a decision from there," Evason said.
Boldy hasn't played since the second game when he suffered an upper-body injury in a 7-4 loss at Toronto on Oct. 14, the winger getting hurt after scoring his first goal.
Since then, Boldy has returned to the ice, skating and stickhandling, but he hasn't rejoined the team.
Also on the ice is captain Jared Spurgeon, who hasn't debuted this season after getting sidelined with an upper-body injury in a preseason game on Oct. 5.
Spurgeon was moved to long-term injured reserve last week to give the team more salary cap flexibility, and that designation means he has to miss 10 games and 24 days at a minimum before he can play again. The Wild's 10th game is their next, on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center when they will complete a drawn-out home-and-home series vs. the Devils. But Spurgeon isn't as close to being ready to suit up as Boldy is, so Spurgeon isn't projected to practice with the team on Wednesday.
Gaudreau (upper body) is the most recent addition to the injury list, the forward not making the road trip after appearing in every game up to that point. But he, too, was hurt in Toronto, even though he stayed in the lineup until last week. There's no timetable for when Gaudreau will be back.
Goligoski (lower body) was injured at practice before the 5-2 victory at Montreal on Oct. 17 and the defenseman was subsequently shifted to long-term injured reserve, the Wild using the cap space that created to replenish their roster.
Bottom line: Without Gaudreau, the Wild are winless.
Since they have been missing Goligoski and Boldy, they have won just twice. And while Spurgeon has been on the mend, they have started 3-4-2 to rank in the middle of the Central Division and Western Conference.
"When your top guys are out, obviously you can't say it but you're not as good of a team," defenseman Calen Addison said. "We have our captain and Bolds out and Freddy, those guys are huge parts of our team, and they make us better."
Boldy was one of the team's leading scorers last season, so it's fair to wonder if he could have bridged the gap on the nights the Wild fell short by a goal.
Defense, though, has been a bigger issue.
Although they have improved lately, the Wild have still ceded the most goals in the league at 37 and their 67.9% penalty kill is second-to-last. Perhaps if they had a rock-solid defender like Spurgeon protecting their zone it wouldn't have gotten so messy.
But there's no changing the past.
What the Wild can control is their performance, regardless of who's playing.
"We can't use it as an excuse," goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. "We're a good enough team that we can find ways to win games."
Wild center Ryan Hartman was named the NHL's third star of the week. He had five goals and two assists in four games, including a five-point night with a hat trick against the Oilers.On Monday, the Wild sent defenseman Daemon Hunt and forward Jujhar Khaira back to Iowa of the AHL.