Wild defenseman Marco Scandella (left)
Mark Humphrey, Associated Press
PITTSBURGH 4, WILD 1
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Scrappy Scandella earning points
- Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO
- Star Tribune
- September 25, 2011 - 12:37 AM
PITTSBURGH - With Saturday's exhibition game against the Penguins scoreless in the second period, Wild defenseman Marco Scandella took 19 minutes worth of penalties that would effectively result in Pittsburgh scoring three power-play goals.
It was one final, eye-catching imprint made by Scandella as the Wild heads into Sunday -- a k a Mass Exodus Day.
The Wild will drastically chop its roster Sunday. But if you think Scandella cost himself a job because of his overexuberance, you could be wrong.
In fact, he may have actually cinched himself, at the very least, more time in St. Paul.
You see, even before the Wild's 4-1 preseason loss to Pittsburgh, Mike Yeo was already talking like a coach who wants Scandella to stick.
"What you want from guys is to force you to make decisions, for a guy to come in and say, 'Here I am,' " Yeo said. "Marco is doing that."
Yeo raved about Scandella's play against Columbus captain Rick Nash a night earlier. He sounded even more pro-Scandella after Saturday's game because the 21-year-old had the best of intentions before receiving a personalized seat in the penalty box for almost a third of the game.
Scandella was jumping to Matt Cullen's defense after the veteran was thrust headfirst into the boards from an Eric Tangradi check.
Scandella raced in and dropped the gloves. Yeo felt Tangradi dropped his gloves first, but regardless, the referees saw it differently and gave Scandella an instigator penalty. Because he wears a visor, that called for an extra two minutes.
Warren Peters was already in the box, meaning after some horrible Wild penalty killing, bang-bang-bang -- it was 3-0 Penguins.
"I like that pack-of-wolves mentality," said Yeo, a tough former minor league customer himself. "I want teams to know that if they're playing against us, if you're going at one, you're going to have to answer five."
Scandella said he didn't "appreciate the hit. I felt like I had to step in for my teammate. It's just too bad I got the team into trouble with the power plays. Next time obviously I have to shed the bucket."
Yeo was encouraged by the Wild's 5-on-5 play, but "we can't expect to win hockey games with special teams like that."
The Wild, playing with only seven skaters deemed shoo-ins to make the squad, gave up four power-play goals and went 0-for-9 on the power play, including two brutal-looking 5-on-3s.
"The special teams we will address and we will get better," Yeo said. "Part of that will be when we get down to one group here, we'll have guys practicing and playing with the guys they'll play with in the regular season."
And that should happen Sunday.
"I think we've given everybody a very fair look right now," Yeo said. "As far as who's going to be on our opening roster Oct. 8, I think we have a pretty good idea right now. Maybe there's a couple more questions to be answered, but our focus right now until the regular season has to be on our team."
The Wild's expected to keep seven or eight defensemen. With defenseman Mike Lundin (back) hurt, Scandella should stick for now. Another defenseman who made a statement Saturday was 6-foot-5 Justin Falk, who was physical and challenged such stars as Evgeni Malkin.
Falk has been criticized in the past for playing too much of a finesse game.
"I thought I played like a big defenseman should," said Falk, 22. "I believe in myself and the tools that I have to play at this level, but it's got to be on a consistent basis. That means playing big out there. I've got to be a strong, shutdown, hard-to-play-against guy."
It'll also be interesting to see if former Blackhawks defenseman Jordan Hendry has done enough to warrant a contract or longer look on his tryout.
Several forwards are vying for the No. 13 forward spot, including Jed Ortmeyer, Warren Peters, Jarod Palmer and Jeff Taffe.
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