Marek Zidlicky

Bruce Kluckhohn, Getty Images

Zidlicky dropped to No. 2 power play

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO
  • Star Tribune
  • November 2, 2011 - 12:10 AM

DETROIT - Marek Zidlicky is the ultimate high-risk, high-reward defenseman. So far this season, the veteran has been high risk with very little reward.

All those "Oh My" moments that have caused Wild fans to hold their breath the past few weeks finally landed the struggling blue-liner on the second power-play unit for the first time in his Wild career Tuesday night against the Red Wings.

Zidlicky might be a power-play specialist, but coach Mike Yeo feels most his turnovers of late have been a result of "forcing a lot of plays."

"He's almost been putting it on his shoulders to try to get our power play going," Yeo said, referring to a Wild power play that is fifth worst in the NHL (6-for-48, 12.5 percent).

"[Zidlicky] has to stay true to what makes him successful as a player. First and foremost, the guy's a shooter. His shot is going to open up a lot more time and space for [our] ability to make plays."

Of Zidlicky's 60 career goals, 42 have come on the power play (70 percent). Of his 226 assists, 116 have come on the power play (51.3 percent). In 11 games, he has two assists -- one on the power play -- and only 11 shots (1 a game).

Zidlicky also has been inconsistent in his own zone, but Yeo said he felt Zidlicky played one of his best even-strength games in terms of "moving his feet," retrieving pucks and coming out of the zone during the Wild's 1-0 victory over the Red Wings on Saturday.

Yeo wants Zidlicky to activate more coming out of his own end and "support attacks."

"His battle level has been there. It's just whether it's the new system or trying to get used to what we're doing, the execution is what we have to bring along with that now," Yeo said.

Bulmer fallout

Yeo discussed further Tuesday the Wild's decision the day before to return 19-year-old Brett Bulmer to his Western Hockey League team, Kelowna, and specifically the Wild's reasoning for telling fans, the media and Bulmer that they should read nothing into Saturday's scratch.

Yeo went as far to tell reporters on Saturday that he had told Bulmer not to fret.

"We hadn't made up our mind yet, and we wanted to see how we did in the Detroit game," Yeo said, referring mostly to injuries. "We're also not going to point him in the direction of 'you're probably going back' just in case if he is going to get in the lineup next game, he has to have the right mind frame."

Yeo said big picture-wise, it was simply imperative for the Wild to return Bulmer to a situation where he would play big minutes in key situations.

"It just makes no sense keeping him on fourth line playing eight minutes a game. It's just going to hurt him in the long run," Yeo said.


• The Wild's original top two lines to start the season -- Devin Setoguchi-Mikko Koivu-Dany Heatley and Guillaume Latendresse-Matt Cullen-Pierre-Marc Bouchard -- were reunited against the Red Wings on Tuesday, but Yeo said, "we're not done experimenting" as he tries to jump-start the NHL's 30th-ranked offense (1.9 goals per game).

"We have to continue to try to find solutions and the right mixes here," Yeo said.

He wasn't kidding. By the third period, Latendresse was back on the top line and Setoguchi down to the second.

• For the third time, the Wild will participate in "Movember'' by growing mustaches to raise awareness about prostate cancer. Fans can register and donate to the Wild Mo Bros by visiting Fans that join and raise a minimum of $150 will receive a Buy One, Get One Free voucher for a Wild home game.

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