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Wild Musings 2/9/2012- Judgment Day

Guest Todd Varga

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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.

Feel free to leave comments.

Follow me on Twitter @Wild_Halo.

Todd Varga

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The Wild were not expected to contend this year and I am afraid that a hot start set up unrealistic expectations. Overvaluing Seteguchi, thin on true skill players where a few injuries (which everyone goes through) cripples the offense and a young uninspiring defense in front of solid and underrated goaltending tell the tale. I think they got the right coach, it was a bold move but the right one, I doubt they will make the playoffs, too many teams with more talent ahead of them. They need a couple of true top six forwards and two top four defensemen. I am not a Heatley fan but getting him for the disinterested ghost of Marty Havlat was a good deal, trading Burns for setaguchi was not. There just isnt enough skill for this well coached team to compete throughout a season.

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Well stated friend. I agree with the talent level. The Wild are lacking straight talent, which is all the more evident when they are on the ice with a team like the Canucks. At the beginning of the year, I had the Wild pegged as a team that should finish 6 through 9 in the West. I still maintained that even when they were on fire at the beginning of the year, and I still maintain that after their freefall that saw them win 4 games in all of January. The Setoguchi trade doesn't look great right now, even though Burns isn't having the greatest season either, but I'm not ready to call it a bust yet. Setoguchi is better than this, and he may yet bounce back, but the Wild also recieved prospects Charlie Coyle and Zack Phillips in that trade- both of who will be in Minnesota or Houston next year. That trade could still pay huge dividends for the Wild. Mike Yeo is awesome. He is an awesome coach. Whether it pays dividends this year or not, Fletcher hit a homerun by hiring him. The group of forwards for the Wild has the chance to look very different next year (I'm planning to write about this in a week or two, probably after the trade deadline), and the defense is still young and growing. I do agree with signing a top 4 defensemen. Zanon has been better lately, but has struggled most of the year, and Zidlicky has been the most unproductive offensive defensemen I have ever seen. Thank you for being the only person to admit trading for Dany Heatley was a good idea. Anytime I try to tell this to anyone they just go off about Heatley's past and how they dislike him, or about how he can't score 50 goals anymore. That was a great trade for the Wild. Havlat did not want to be in Minnesota. You could see it on the ice.... when he was actually on it.

Thanks a lot for the comment. Appreciate it.

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Actually the Wild were missing three of it's top forwards. And now Stoner is out. Brodziak sure had a rough game, as he seems to be a different player based upon the wingers he centers.

It should be a good game on Saturday. But I wouldn't think Columbus is a given for a win. They have improved their play now under Richards.

Gillies will probably have a big game. :P

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