Wild stay hot; can Blues avoid sinking lower?

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Sunday really had to sting for Mike Yeo.

On one end of the ice, you have the Minnesota Wild. The team that once employed Yeo rattled off its third win in a row (and their 10th win in 12 games) by beating Yeo’s St. Louis Blues by a score of 3-2.

Yeo’s replacement Bruce Boudreau’s teams just keep getting it done – at least in the regular season – as it sure seems like the Wild might exceed expectations in 2018-19.

Meanwhile, the Blues seem like they keep finding ways to lose. Blues GM Doug Armstrong sure seemed like he hit it out of the park with the Ryan O'Reilly trade, giving St. Louis a pretty impressive arsenal of talent. Blame those woes on mental errors or faulty goaltending, but either way, it’s difficult to wonder about Yeo’s future with the Blues languishing with just 15 standings points in as many games (the second-worst mark in the Central).

This painful defeat ends an up-and-down seven-game homestand for the Blues, who went 4-3-0 during that stretch. For every showing where St. Louis flexed its muscles, there were soul-scraping games like these.

When you look at the Blues’ soon-to-be road-heavy schedule, it’s reasonable to wonder if Yeo makes it another month as head coach:

Wed, Nov. 14: at Chicago
Fri, Nov. 16: at Vegas
Sat, Nov. 17: at San Jose
Mon, Nov. 19: vs. Los Angeles
Wed, Nov. 21: at Nashville
Fri, Nov. 23: vs. Nashville
Sat, Nov. 24: vs. Winnipeg
Wed, Nov. 28: at Detroit
Fri, Nov. 30: at Colorado
Sat, Dec. 1: at Arizona

The Blues and Wild really do feel like polar opposites as you dig deeper.

Again, Minnesota’s on a tear, and they’re ranked second in the Central (24 points in 17 games) while the Blues are second-to-last. While the Blues left points on the table during their seven-game homestand, the Wild just completed a seven-game road trip in convincing fashion, winning five of those contests, and only one of their two losses was by more than one goal.

If that doesn’t drive home the polar opposites comparison, the Wild can make things better with a lot of home games after complete that stretch of road challenges:

Tue, Nov. 13: vs. Washington
Thu, Nov. 15: vs. Vancouver
Sat, Nov. 17: vs. Buffalo
Sun, Nov. 18: at Chicago
Wed, Nov. 21: vs. Ottawa
Fri, Nov. 23: vs. Winnipeg
Tue, Nov 27: vs. Arizona
Thu, Nov. 29: at Columbus
Sat, Dec. 1: vs Toronto

It almost seems eerie, doesn’t it?

For all the doom and gloom for the Blues – and, again, things could get messy – there might be some comfort in realizing that they won’t need to deal with the Wild for a while. You never know; we could look back on St. Louis’ challenging November as the bonding experience that brought a talented group (and an embattled group) together like never before.

As much as scheduling quirks can make a difference in a league driven by parity, great teams often show that they’ll win even in dire circumstances.

It remains to be seen if the Wild end up being anything more than good, but either way, the Blues should take some cues from the team that handed them such a frustrating loss on Sunday.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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