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WILD NOTES

Yeo wants Gillies to channel 'inner Cal'

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO
  • Star Tribune
  • November 30, 2011 - 11:58 PM

EDMONTON, ALBERTA - Colton Gillies might never score as much as Cal Clutterbuck during his NHL career. But that doesn't mean the Wild checker can't take a page out of the book of the Wild's heaviest hitter.

One game after being scratched, Gillies returned against the Edmonton Oilers. He entered Wednesday with two assists in 23 games, but coach Mike Yeo wants Gillies to learn he can affect games in ways other than scoring.

Look at Clutterbuck, who alters the way the opposition plays because of his reputation for being physical. He has led the NHL in hits three consecutive seasons and ranks second this season.

In the Wild's victory over Tampa Bay on Monday, the Lightning repeatedly turned pucks over when Clutterbuck was on the ice. Why?

"When Clutterbuck is on the ice, people know that," Yeo said. "You know they're a little quicker to move the puck, they might not hang onto it for quite that extra second to make a play."

Bluntly, players don't like being checked by Clutterbuck. Look no further than Clutterbuck's short-handed goal.

Clutterbuck went around the right side of the net. That caused defenseman Eric Brewer to abruptly change his path. He turned it over, and Mikko Koivu set up Clutterbuck.

"That's why I'm physical. There's a reason for it," Clutterbuck said before Wednesday's game, in which he suffered a left thigh injury after taking a knee from Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney. "If somebody's going to think twice about going back to get the puck, that might be the turnover that gets us a scoring chance or a goal.

"It's all about pressure. There's a lot of players in the league that can be really good without pressure and really bad with pressure. It's just about making guys second-guess decisions."

Yeo's advice: Stay calm

Yeo talked to Brad Staubitz about being disciplined in Wednesday's rematch against the Oilers after agitator Darcy Hordichuk baited him into eight first-period penalty minutes during Edmonton's 5-2 victory on Friday.

Yeo wants to build a culture where if other teams play the Wild physically or try to draw penalties, "we're just this machine that keeps going out there and playing our game. We want to build almost this unbreakable spirit, and it's real tough for teams to play against that."

As for Staubitz, Yeo said, "He should be the guy that other people are trying to fight, and I think for the most part he's done that this year. He's a guy that's initiating and stirring things up and being real physical. ... It should be on his terms."

Staubitz and Hordichuk wasted little time squaring off again, dropping the gloves only 2 minutes, 12 seconds into Wednesday's game. Both received fighting majors. Both were on their first shift.

Taking one for the team

The footage apparently looks great, but Mike Lundin says he looked stupid.

During Sunday's pregame warmups against Calgary, the Wild defenseman agreed to wear a camera so Fox Sports North could get a different perspective. The footage is scheduled to run on Friday's pregame show and during the Wild's game vs. New Jersey.

"They told me it would be a little camera, and I get there and was like, 'Am I seriously going to wear this?'" Lundin said. "I felt embarrassed and just wanted to hide on the ice the whole time. It stuck way off my helmet.

"I'm too nice of a guy. All my teammates said I looked like an idiot. I was like, 'Thanks for making the transition for my first warmups as a Wild smooth.'"

Etc.

• With Gillies back to add a big body and physicality, Casey Wellman was scratched. He has been called up from Houston of the AHL three times and scratched three times in four games.

• Edmonton's Eric Belanger, a former Wild player, entered Wednesday's game with no goals in 24 games this season. Last season in Phoenix, he went 27 without a goal at one point.

"I'm not a 50-goal scorer, but I'm not a zero scorer either," Belanger joked.

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