Three key players, three undisclosed injuries, 23 combined games missed.
That's the lowdown on Wild forwards Marian Gaborik and Owen Nolan and defenseman Brent Burns this season. None of the three played on the Wild's recently completed 2-2 road trip.
It's hard to say if Wayne Gretzky in his prime could have scored on Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo on Saturday in a 2-0 victory over the Wild -- Luongo's third shutout in a row and league-leading fifth of the year. But the way coach Jacques Lemaire sounded Monday, having any of the Wild's injured three back would have been a big help in finishing the road trip above .500.
Lemaire called the loss to Vancouver the Wild's "best game" of the trip. One has to wonder what could have been with two big-time forwards and a solid blueliner healthy and in the lineup.
"We need them because of the lack of scoring we have right now," Lemaire said, adding that having them back "could mean one or two goals more. And we need it."
The Wild's 33 goals are tied with Phoenix for third fewest in the league behind Florida and Tampa Bay (both 31). By comparison, Montreal -- which has played one less game (12) than the Wild -- had scored 10 more times.
Gaborik, Nolan and Burns have played a combined 16 games and accumulated nine points.
"Other guys have to pick up the slack," Wild winger Benoit Pouliot said. "Now you get more ice time with all those guys out of the lineup ...you have to step up your game and contribute to the team whichever way you can."
After starting the season 6-0-1, the Wild has lost four of six. Pouliot is one of the players who has performed well of late, registering three points on the road trip and finishing it a plus-3.
Overall, Lemaire was pleased with the road trip even without marquee players. "We played the best we could," he said.
But it could have been better.
"Players like Gaby, he can change games by himself with his ability to create chances," center Pierre-Marc Bouchard said.