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Wild tinkers with power play; Clutterbuck out Tuesday

  • Blog Post by: Michael Russo
  • February 25, 2013 - 2:12 PM
Cal Clutterbuck missed practice today with the thigh contusion and won’t play Tuesday night against the Calgary Flames. Clutterbuck said it’s starting to get better, but it’s clear he is still walking a bit gingerly.
 
Greeting from Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub, where they have the best post-practice salad/soup bar in town.
 
I’ll be writing about the Wild’s “system” in Tuesday’s paper. Twitter’s a good two-way street. You can get instantaneous Wild news from me and I can gauge the temperature from you.
 
As I wrote on the blog a few weeks ago, fans seem to be tweeting me more and more with frustration about Mike Yeo’s “system” – which is fan lingo for how often the Wild dumps and chases.
 
As I wrote a few weeks ago, the Wild’s gameplan is no different than most every team in the league. If the D is gapping up and the only alternative will be to turn the puck over at the offensive blue line (Terry Murray used to tell me two worst places to turn over a puck are at the blue lines), the Wild is supposed to dump the puck.
 
The problem hasn’t been the dumping. It’s the chasing.
 
The problem is the team hasn’t done a consistent enough job with its forecheck to either get the puck back with proper placement or going to work once it gets the puck back behind the opposing D. It takes committed courage and effort and physicality to go get that puck and go to work with it.
 
Zach Parise started laughing when I told him today that fans are ripping the Wild’s system.
 
“We went to the Finals dumping and chasing [with New Jersey],” Parise said.
 
Not only that, the Final Four in the NHL last year dumped and chased – Los Angeles, Phoenix, Rangers and Devils. The Penguins won a Cup a few years ago by dumping and chasing.
 
That’s a fact. You can hate it, but that’s just the way the NHL is played.
 
The point of dumping and chasing, especially early in games, is to soften up the defense for later in games so either the D doesn’t want to go get that puck or they’re backing up and you can actually carry it in.
 
So I’ll write more about that in Tuesday’s paper, so please give it a read. Real good stuff from Parise and Mikko Koivu.
 
The lines today in practice were:
 
Parise-Koivu-Charlie Coyle
Jason Zucker-Matt Cullen-Devin Setoguchi
Pierre-Marc Bouchard-Kyle Brodziak-Dany Heatley
Mike Rupp-Mikael Granlund/Zenon Konopka-Torrey Mitchell
 
The D were the same.
 
Granlund was moved to the top power-play unit, so obviously he is playing. The Wild’s power play is 3 for 34 the past 12 games. What concerns me about that? Not the drought, believe it or not. It’s that it has only had 34 power-play attempts in the past 12 games (2.8 a game).
 
That tells me it doesn’t have the puck enough and is not doing a good enough job skating through the neutral zone or possessing the puck deep in the offensive zone. It also means it puts so much pressure to score on the one or two ones you get a game.
 
Yeo did fiddle with the personnel today, saying, “we have to try something” after actually making schematic changes the past few days and that not working in Calgary. The one in Calgary was a momentum-killer. Almost the entire two minutes on the offensive zone and no shots.
 
So Granlund moves to the first unit with maybe Bouchard or Jared Spurgeon, too, while the second unit will have Heatley there with Setoguchi, Cullen, Jonas Brodin and maybe Spurgeon or Tom Gilbert or Charlie Coyle. I’d like to see Jason Zucker, who was so good in the AHL on the power play (third in the league with 10 at the time of his callup). He’s a shooter, and the Wild needs shooters on the power play.
 
The Wild looked pretty lethargic in practice today. On a few occasions, Yeo had to stop practice and ask for more chatter, more jump, better pace, etc.
 
I chatted briefly with Josh Harding this morning. He says physically he feels good, but the doctors are keeping him off the ice for the time being and hopefully he’ll be back on soon.
 
I’ve gotten a lot of Twitter questions about whether the Wild’s hurting Granlund’s development by scratching him and putting him on the fourth line. I talked to Yeo about that today and I’ll probably write about that in the next day or so.
 
I will be on KFAN with Paul Allen live from the penalty box at the X at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. I will also be on Fox Sports North during the pregame show and first intermission Tuesday.
 
Talk to you Tuesday.

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