Despite a loss and a tie between Wisconsin men’s hockey (6-13-7 overall, 1-8-3 Big Ten) and No. 6 ranked Michigan (18-4-5, 9-2-3) this past weekend, head coach Mike Eaves said his team is headed in the right direction.“We’re not where we want to be but we’re forging to that point,” Eaves said.A 4-1 loss Friday night and a 4-4 tie, which ended in a shootout loss Saturday night, dampened the Badgers’ spirits during an already disappointing season. Close losses have been a continual theme this season, forcing Eaves to repeatedly discuss how close his team is to improvement.“In Michigan we talked about the term ‘flirting with victory,’ and we did that there, losing 6-4 and [tying] 6-6,” Eaves said. “On Saturday night, [nearly winning] happened several times, we’ve come off the bench and shaken the other coaches’ hands, and they’re very complimentary to our group, but that and 90 cents will get you a cup of coffee, not a ‘W.’”Going into the Michigan series, Wisconsin had not played for two weeks and lacked opportunities to stay fresh. But with the team now playing every week, Eaves said they can continue to get better as they welcome another conference opponent, Michigan State (7-20-3, 3-10-1), the only Big Ten team the Badgers beat this season.Though the team hoped for more progress, Eaves praised his players for how they have handled themselves during the season and the chemistry they’ve developed.“When you’re not winning, it’s really easy to get negative and this group has gone the other way,” Eaves said. “They’ve gotten closer as a group. They’re able to accept the accountability challenge. From an inside out standpoint, that’s really healthy.”As the Badgers approach the end of the regular season, hoping to build on the positives. But Eaves did not want to say exactly where he sees the team in the future.“I think it would be hard to paint a picture of what it is without limiting us or selling us short,” Eaves said. “I would want to say something goofy like we could do something really special, but that might be reaching, or if I limit us, that’s not fair at all.”With only eight games remaining, Eaves said the lineups could still change going forward and they plan to mix up the combinations as they prepare for Michigan State. Eaves thinks his players are still inconsistent and wants more out of them, making it hard to speculate on their futures.So for now, Eaves, in his 13th season, is sticking to his same rhetoric: the Badgers are still improving.