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Wild have learned a lot from past January swoons

ST. PAUL--Sound the alarm. The month of January is upon the Minnesota Wild. January rarely was good to the Wild under former coach Mike Yeo. Current coach Bruce Boudreau insists history isn't going to repeat itself. "It's not relevant to me," he ...

ST. PAUL-Sound the alarm. The month of January is upon the Minnesota Wild.

January rarely was good to the Wild under former coach Mike Yeo. Current coach Bruce Boudreau insists history isn't going to repeat itself.

"It's not relevant to me," he said. "It's (the media) that makes more of it than anyone else."

"I don't read any of that (stuff)," defenseman Matt Dumba added. "That happened in the past. That doesn't mean it's going to happen in the future. I don't believe in that."

Nonetheless, it has become a talking point because over the past five seasons the Wild consistently have hit a midseason wall right about now.

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In five seasons under Yeo, the Wild were mediocre at best - and unwatchable at worst - in January, finishing with a 23-25-7 record. Those seasons featured various losing streaks in the weeks leading up to January and in the weeks following it.

January 2015 featured a six-game losing streak halted only by the trade for goaltender Devan Dubnyk. January 2016 featured a five-game losing streak that kept getting worse, resulting in a stretch of losses in 13 of 14 games that led to Yeo's demise.

The January 2017 Wild don't take much stock in previous slumps.

"No," left winger Zach Parise said when asked whether the Wild were worried the trend might continue. "That hasn't even entered our minds."

That said, the upcoming schedule is difficult enough for things to turn bad in a hurry again if the Wild let it.

After watching a franchise-record 12-game winning streak come to an end against the Columbus Blue Jackets on New Year's Eve, the Wild (23-9-4) now face a brutal West Coast road trip, which features games against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday and the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. All three could win the Pacific Division.

And it doesn't get any easier after that, with the Wild playing host to the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens next Thursday, and then hitting the road again for a pair of tough Central Division games against the Stars in Dallas on Jan. 14 and the Blackhawks in Chicago on Jan. 15.

The Wild haven't played since Saturday, when their 12-game winning streak ended in a 4-2 home loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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"We're excited to get back on that horse," right winger Charlie Coyle said.

They had better be with that schedule. It is possible the Wild won't be favored in any game until the New Jersey Devils come to town in two weeks.

"We aren't going to let anything (from previous seasons) dictate what happens now," Coyle said. "I feel like from previous seasons we know how to control that a little better. You learn a lot from those experiences."

Boudreau doesn't even plan to address the potential for a slump.

"Why would I want to be negative?" he said. "If anybody thought we were going to win the next 56 games in a row, there's something wrong with them."

Boudreau, however, admitted the Wild could be in trouble if they don't get back to the basics. He said there were times during the winning streak that the team was trying to be something it isn't.

"It's understandable when we're scoring goals that guys start cheating to score goals because they like reading they've got 10 points in 11 games and stuff like that," he said. "We have to get back to what makes us a really good team."

"I'd like to think we're still a really good team," Dumba added. "It's been a weird break. Now we're going right back into the fire of playing almost every day."

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And if the Wild happen to lose a few games in a row amid this brutal stretch, Boudreau says he won't be concerned.

"We should work it as a new season and not say, 'Here we go again,' " he said. "If we lose two or three in a row, every team in the league has done that. Not that we want to.

"It's a better feeling being the hunted rather than the hunter. Those good teams embrace that. They say, 'OK. Bring it on.' Those teams that are afraid of it don't get it going too often. ... We'll find out what we are soon enough."

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