Ryan Suter, in humorous fashion, ended his press scrum after today's morning skate by saying, "OK, no more drama, guys."
There's something about Suter and the Blackhawks locker room. Remember, after last January's loss in Chicago a few days before the Devan Dubnyk trade, he said, "I don’t know what the heck is going on, but every day’s a bad day right now
The Wild's DEFCON has gone from about DEFCON, let's call it, 3 yesterday back down to DEFCON 5 this morning after the Wild's No. 1 defenseman met with coach Mike Yeo.
All is calm in the Wild world again.
Refresh your memories with the day's events and you'll understand the context for today, but before today's skate, Yeo and Suter met to clear the air. Tonight against the Blackhawks, Yeo will indeed go with Suter being reunited with left-shot now right-defenseman Jonas Brodin and left-shot Marco Scandella will return to the lineup and be paired with right-shot partner of yesteryear Jared Spurgeon. Nate Prosser, a righty, will play the left side of right shot Matt Dumba. Christian Folin won't play.
"We’re obviously on the same page," Suter said. "It’s a story that shouldn’t even be a story. I think the heat of the practice yesterday, I was just saying stuff I probably shouldn’t have said. But at the end of the day, it’s about winning and it’s about what's going to be best for our team. Obviously Brods is a great defenseman, Spurge is a good defenseman, we’ve got a lot of good defensemen. I told you at the beginning of the year, our D corps I think is up there at the top of the league. It’s not really news to me anymore."
Yeo said Suter's comments yesterday "didn’t bother me. There was a time maybe where it would have, ... but first off, just the day in general, practice in general was a day to rattle the cage a little bit, and so that’s what we were looking for."
Yeo basically admitted he was trying to tick the players off yesterday after going 1-4-2 in their previous seven games.
"Exactly," Suter said, before laughing and adding, "I did exactly what the coach wanted, right? At the end, it’s what they decide to help us win. And we weren’t winning, and I think it’s probably good to change it up a little bit."
Yeo explained his rationale for the tinkering today (which I'll explain below). "We didn’t talk before practice yesterday obviously. Might have been a good idea," Yeo said, laughing.
"One thing I’ve learned is you never judge a player how they react to something by their initial reaction," Yeo added. "Some players, they’ll nod their head and they’ll say, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,' and it goes in one ear and out the other ear and other players they might react in a way that you don’t think is great and then they're the ones that go out and actually take it all in.
"I know Suts is a guy like that. I learned a long time ago coaching him, he’s not one of those 'yeah, yeah' guys, but he’s a guy that when you ask him to do something, he might tell you his opinions, but nobody will go out there and do it better than him."
Suter still says he meant what he said yesterday: "I mean, it’s easier to play with a righty. That’s all I was saying yesterday basically. It has nothing to do with who it is or what it is. Lefty, righty, it’s easier to come out of your end, it’s easier to make more plays. If this works, and we get winning again, might as well keep it. Hopefully it works and this is all behind us."
On why Yeo is making the changes: "There’s lots of reasons. We don’t know what’s going to happen beyond the first few shifts tonight. We’ll see. This is not a reflection on him, this is not a reflection of Spurge or anything else. This is just what we felt we needed to do. Status quo was not quite working for us, so let’s shake things up a little bit and see what happens."
A lot of this has to do with Matt Dumba's play recently.
"I want him to bounce back and get on top of his game," Yeo said. "It was a couple days ago where I challenged him pretty hard and I thought he responded last game. There was one turnover but I don’t completely fault him for that. Mistakes happen. Lots of players make mistakes. But when you’re standing behind the bench and you’re watching a player play shift after shift you can tell if his mind is in the right place and I thought he was last game."
Yeo also liked Brodin's game against Dallas. He had an assist,, three shots, six attempted shots, three takeaways and four blocked shots in 23:58 of ice time.
"I thought that was his best game of the year," Yeo said. "I would say that for sure. We’ll see if he can continue that. I thought he was real assertive, I thought the way he was defending. That to me is a real good example of what his top games look like – his skating ability, his separation of guys from the puck, his gap control, his retrievals, his execution. He’s a guy that has always played with a lot of offensive minded guys. He’s a defense first guy. But when he is being aggressive in terms of trying to create offense and jumping into plays and getting pucks to the net, that’s when you know he’s on top of things."
Devan Dubnyk, as long as his wife doesn't go into labor, will start vs. Corey Crawford tonight. Dubnyk said it sounded like last night was a close call, but the bread's still in the oven. This will be their second son and the due date is Friday.
Not much more going on. Lots of Patrick Kane chatter today on his 19-game point streak, and I'll probably write my Sunday column on him. Kane was great talking about it today, as was Zach Parise, who has an immense amount of respect for Kane.
Parise said personally he is starting to feel more himself. He has no points in two games since returning from a sprained MCL.
"There's still some stuff that's off not practicing or playing for almost a month, it takes a little bit to get it back," Parise said. "I mean, these guys are 20, 25 games in and in a full sprint, so hopefully tonight will be another step in the right direction and I can get the timing back even a little more."
Parise is excited Scandella is back: "Marco is such a big part in our D, in our top-4 D. He's a great player, just as far as retrieving the puck, getting us out of our own zone, I think we really missed him from that standpoint. It'll be good for us to have him back in the offensive zone, too. He's got a big shot, makes good plays. Hopefully that'll kickstart us a little bit."
As you saw, the alumni game rosters were released. Check out the previous blog for those.
"That’s going to be a really cool event," Yeo said. "I’m anxious to watch that for sure. There’s a lot of great names on there. That whole weekend is going to be something special. I got to be part of one back in Pittsburgh and it’s something that I’m very excited for our players to get to be a part of. And obviously for the state of Minnesota as well."
Asked if he had picked out his attire yet, Yeo joked, "I’m going to wear something on top of my head, I know that."