Mikko Koivu, shown taking on Winnipeg’s Chris Mason during a shootout Thursday, leads a line that produced all seven of the team’s goals during the recent four-game homestand. That’s not the sort of balance the team craves.
Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune
Wild's second and third lines feel burden
- Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD
- Star Tribune
- February 18, 2012 - 12:06 AM
It was a rather small gathering at St. Thomas Academy on Friday.
The Wild held a practice there, but it was optional. And only nine skaters and the two goaltenders hit the ice hours before the team hopped a plane for St. Louis.
Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi weren't there. But then, given that line's recent goal-scoring stretch, it was others who needed the work. The Wild just completed a winless four-game homestand in which the team scored only seven goals. All seven came from members of the top line.
Saturday's game in St. Louis is the start of a stretch in which the Wild will play three of four games on the road, where the team has struggled mightily to score. It's clear the team's other lines have to start contributing.
"It's pretty obvious," Warren Peters said. "We have to support them. The opportunities are there. There have been scoring chances. We can't concentrate on whether they're going in or not right now. If you do, then you start squeezing the stick, or cheating."
The Wild has scored only 17 goals in its past 15 road games, and normally productive players such as Matt Cullen (no goals in 14 games) and Kyle Brodziak (no goals in five) have struggled.Waiting game
One of the nine players at the optional practice Friday was defenseman Marek Zidlicky, who was scratched by Wild coach Mike Yeo on Thursday against Winnipeg. That came a day after Zidlicky's agent, Larry Kelly, said his client would waive his no-trade clause to go to New Jersey.
"It is what it is, the situation around me," Zidlicky said. "I don't want to say anything more."
Asked if he had, indeed, said he would waive the no-trade clause for the right trade, Zidlicky said: "Probably. That's the way I feel right now. So we'll see what happens. First, my priority was to stay here."Ortmeyer back
The Wild recalled forward Jed Ortmeyer from Houston and sent Cody Almond back to the Aeros.
Ortmeyer has appeared in 10 games for the Wild this season, averaging 9:06 of ice time. He has one assist.
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