NHL Team Report – Minnesota Wild – INSIDE SHOTS
Six games in and there is already frustration. October isn’t even over yet and the Wild were feeling the frustration Tuesday night as reporters were ushered out of the dressing room post-game for what was presumed to be a team meeting.
Another slow start, another game against a beatable foe in which the Wild looked as if it lacked a pulse too often. And this with a killer stretch of schedule coming up. After all, Tuesday’s opponent was a Pittsburgh team missingSidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins’ No. 1 goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was on the bench, and they were hurting on the blue line. The result: Another Wild letdown as Minnesota fell 4-2 to Pittsburgh. New team, some new faces, but the same problems that doomed the team last season.
New coach Mike Yeo isn’t pleased, and he showed it, both during the game and after. To start the second period, he broke up his top line of Mikko Koivu, Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley. He put Setoguchi on the second line and moved Pierre-Marc Bouchard up to the top line, just looking to get the moribund line jump-started. To no avail.
“I didn’t feel like we had any momentum or jump or life to our game at that time,” Yeo said of that decision. “We were just looking for a spark. Didn’t work.”
After the game, he bemoaned his team’s lack of intensity, especially on the power play, which was 0-for-5 Tuesday. Granted, this was against the NHL’s best penalty-killers. But to Yeo, it was further proof that his team lacks intensity. “We’re not quick, we’re not aggressive, and because of that, we’re not tough to defend right now,” Yeo said.
And it sounds like Yeo is tired of it. Things have to change or the Wild will find itself in a hole. The next few weeks includes road games at Edmonton and Vancouver, a game against Anaheim and a home-and-home with the red-hot Red Wings.
“What I want to see is an understanding of us that we have to start the game a certain way,” Yeo said. “If a team’s going to come into our building, they should know they’re going to be playing against the Minnesota Wild. And it should not be a lot of fun. I don’t think we made Pittsburgh feel that way in the first period.”
NHL Team Report – Minnesota Wild – NOTES, QUOTES
–This has been a difficult couple of months for Mike Lundin. A back injury has kept the 27-year-old defenseman from doing anything with the team. And that is especially difficult for Lundin, who is a native of the Twin Cities area who wanted his return to Minnesota to start well. “It was frustrating after the first couple of days,” said Lundin, who played four seasons with Tampa Bay. “It’s a mental battle every day just trying to keep your cool and watch the guys work hard and play hard together.”
Every morning, as the team is practicing, Lundin works up a sweat doing off-ice workouts. He hits the shooting cage, firing one puck after another into a net. But he has yet to work with the team. And progress, he said, has been slow. “It’s hard to tell day-by-day the improvement,” he said. “But you look back like a week ago, and there’s improvement. It’s frustrating though, because you don’t clearly see the results. It’s only a short ways I have to come now, but it takes a while, and I have to get there. Otherwise I’ll just be injured all year.”
–Conditioning was a big priority for new coach Mike Yeo this fall. There was a reason for this. According to GM Chuck Fletcher, four players showed up for camp in the fall of 2010 out of shape. Yeo is also big on being in good enough shape to grind teams down, then take advantage in the third period. Unfortunately, the plan isn’t working right now. Six games into the season, Yeo knows the team has a long way to go. “I give our guys a lot of credit for the conditioning that we came into camp, but still at this time of year, we don’t have the conditioning that I believe we will have,” Yeo said. “We’re still striving to be a team that should take the game over in the third period. I think we have another level to get to there. So our practices have to be tough.”
–It’s an NHL tradition, when players face a former team, to “throw money on the board.” That money goes to the player who scores the winning goal or into a fund used for team parties. Coaches and assistants have also done it over the years. That is, until last year, when Toronto coach Ron Wilson got in trouble when cameras caught him paying off the sum after a win against his old team, San Jose. Wilson was fined for breaking NHL rules. So when a few unnamed players approached Yeo about putting money on the board against the Penguins, his former team, he had an out. “Can’t do it now,” Yeo joked before the game.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Nobody comes to the rink and says, ‘Uh, tonight we’re going to come out flat.’ It’s frustrating for us because we know we can be a good team.” — Wild D Greg Zanon.
NHL Team Report – Minnesota Wild – ROSTER REPORT
–LW Guillaume Latendresse continues to be one of the few offensive bright spots for the Wild. He entered Tuesday’s game with a team-high four assists. Tuesday against Pittsburgh, he scored his first goal of the season, continuing his strong start as he returns from injuries and surgeries that limited him to 11 games last season. He now leads the Wild with five points. He scored his first goal since Oct. 21, 2010 in Edmonton, 362 games ago.
–RW Cal Clutterbuck has picked up where he left off last season, when he set a career high with 19 goals. He scored his second goal in two games — a short-handed wrist shot in the second period. It was his third career shorthanded goal.
–C Mikko Koivu and the rest of his linemates might be struggling. But Koivu did pick up an assist on Cal Clutterbuck’s shorthanded goal in the second period. It was Koivu’s 13th career shorthanded point (8-5-13). That is the second most in franchise history behind Wes Walz’s 21.
–D Mike Lundin (back spasms) missed all of training camp. He has been improving, but he has not yet practiced with the team.
–C Cody Almond (back) missed all of training camp and will be out long term, GM Chuck Fletcher said.
–Nick Schultz, Marek Zidlicky
–Clayton Stoner, Greg Zanon
–Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon
–LW Devin Setoguchi, C Mikko Koivu, RW Dany Heatley
–LW Guillaume Latendresse, C Matt Cullen, RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard
–LW Colton Gillies, C Kyle Brodziak, RW Cal Clutterbuck
–LW Brad Staubitz, C Darroll Powe, RW Brett Bulmer