Wild Musings 2/9/2012- Judgment Day
Tonight the Wild were handed a 5-2 loss by the Northwest leading Vancouver Canucks. The game started off very promising, as Dany Heatley scored his 18th goal of the season 13 seconds into the game. Unfortunately that was about it for the Wild offense. The Canucks dominated the next 30 minutes of the game, scoring 4 unanswered goals. The loss leaves the Wild 2 points out of the 8th spot in the West, behind both Dallas and Phoenix. At a time when the Wild desperately need wins, this would seem a very damaging loss. However, I believe this loss has the possibility to the genesis of a Wild playoff run.
Mike Yeo is the head coach of the Minnesota Wild. For those unfamiliar with him, he coached the Wild’s AHL affiliate the Houston Aeros last year, and took them to the Calder Cup finals. He is in his first year as head coach of the Wild, and like most head coaches, he addresses the media after a game. On this night, Mike Yeo was as honest with the media as I have ever seen a coach be.
“We’ve pretty much been terrible for the last 2 months.”
“We don’t have enough players on the ice that are willing to pay the price to win the game.”
Mike Yeo made a real statement through this press conference. He sent a very clear message to his players, to his coaches, and to the fans: This isn’t good enough- we have to be better. Yeo is a smart man. He knows, just like the rest of us (whether we want to admit it or not), the Canucks are a better team. But Mike Yeo has never been about having more skill, or more talent than any other team. If you have ever heard one of his news conferences, he is about 3 things: Playing the system, paying the price, and putting in the work. He says them every time he talks about his team, and what they need to do to win. This is what he preaches, and what he expects. He very clearly feels they have gotten away from this, and is stating as much through his news conference. The results back up what he says. The Wild have been in freefall for the past two months. They have gotten away from the system and style of play that had made them the best team in the NHL at the beginning of the year.
This is all not to say the Wild haven’t faced any exterior challenges. They are missing two of their top six forwards, and have played a fairly brutal schedule over the past month and a half. But they still have the skill to make a run at the playoffs, and Mike Yeo knows this, and he is throwing down the gauntlet to his team. The Wild will need to rekindle the chemistry and process that had them at the top of the NHL earlier in the year to make a run at this.
Things that are moving in the right direction:
-Dany Heatley is on fire. He is scoring goals, and taking shots the Wild desperately need.
-Devin Setoguchi scored a goal (his 3rd in 16 games) and played his best game in weeks. He has to stay hot and contribute offensively.
-Mikko Koivu is back.
The Wild play the Jackets on Saturday. I am expecting to see the Wild we knew back in November.
Thanks for reading.
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