The Wild are in danger of becoming road kill, and coach Todd Richards says that's unacceptable.
"We have to put our foot down," he said Wednesday before the Wild played host to the Detroit Red Wings. "Enough's enough."
Minnesota lugs an abysmal 8-17-2 road record onto a three-game road trip that starts against the Colorado Avalanche Thursday in Denver, standing 28th of 30 teams away from home.
"It's a big stretch for us," Richards said. "Are these critical games? These are huge games."
The Wild have not won a road game in 2010, going 0-5 since a win Dec. 28 at Los Angeles, and because they went into Wednesday's games five points behind eighth-place Detroit, another pointless road trip could virtually wipe out their playoff hopes.
"Absolutely," Richards said. "And we have to know that going in."
Defenseman Kim Johnsson knows.
"We're at a point," he said, "where we have to figure it out, and we have to figure it out quick. If you can't win on the road when there are 29 games left, you're not going to make the playoffs."
Forward Robbie Earl knows.
"We're at a point," he said, "where we're going to make a push or we're not. It's up to us."
Burns improving: Defenseman Brent Burns played in his third game Wednesday night after missing 29 because of a concussion and said beforehand that he's feeling better every day.
"You're never going to get in game shape without playing games," he said. "It's a slow process. You start feeling better and better, and the next thing you know, you'll be back in game shape.
"Every time you play, you're going to get better. It's just a matter of being put in situations you've got to work through and get better."
Richards said the coaches have asked Burns "to take baby steps" in his return, "just because he has missed so much time."
Richards said the team's collective mood has improved because of Burns' presence and upbeat attitude, noting, "When you bring somebody into the room like that, it's very refreshing and energizing."