With last night's 2-1 victory over St. Louis, Minnesota pushed its winning streak to four games- FOUR! and moved for fourth in the Western Conference, trailing Chicago, Dallas, and the Northwest Division leading...Edmonton Oilers?!?
In this little run The Wild has going, its not like they've rolled through the Blue Jackets or Calgary- we're talking quality competition here; Vancouver, Detroit (twice, freaking Bizarro World,) and St. Louis. Make no mistake, strong goaltending from Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding is obviously been the backbone to Minnesota's success, but there are signs that The Wild are beginning to buy in.
Much like the word "compete" (which somehow became a noun) was the key word of the Todd Richards era, Mike Yeo uses the word "Process." As in, "its a process to get where we want to go as a team", or "the process of weaning Guillaume Latendresse off of poutine." Its the baby steps, the lessons learned, the programming until the desired reactions and movements become instinctive. Unfortunately for all the parties involved in these games; players, coaches, Brass, fans, Owner- there isn't a definitive timeline as to when the proverbial transmission clunks into gear. It could be five games, ten games, hell even Dan Bylsma told Mike Yeo that it could take 30 games.
Now, I'm not about to say that we're a well oiled machine at 13 games in, but there are tangible signs of progress that this team is getting it- there is belief in the process.
But what about us, the fans? There is still a heavy amount of skepticism about the team, and rightfully so- the last Head Coach was a dud (lack of talent and assets on roster and in pipeline notwithstanding) and lest we forget, we are in a sports market with very little to cheer about- Twins sucked, Wolves are locked out (they suck anyways,) The Vikings suck, and while there is some good vibes coming from a few other teams (Lynx and Gopher Hockey,) the "wait and see because I don't want my heart ripped out again" feeling permeates the sports scene in Minnesota. The tiresome feeling of being on the losing end just dominates.
Attendance numbers of 14,000+ show this; its not that we're unconvinced, its that some (namely the casual fan) just isn't ready to take that leap of faith and invest themselves in the team whole-heartedly. So when will that happen, that the process of belief becomes so that the collective imagination of the local sports fanbase is captured? There are good things going on with this hockey team, on and off the ice- does it have to become great things? The Division lead? A firm entrenchment into the playoff race? Scoring more than 2.3 goals a game? A power play that finally comes around? I mean, for me, you look at the fact that this team has lost outright just three times in the first 13 games of the season- "process" territory if there ever was such a thing, and now they're winning games outright in regulation. My opinon, however, isn't gospel.
You see the progress on the ice but sometimes it takes more- the same process of belief that comes from the fans may not be as quick to materialize tangibly, if at all.