Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom blocked a shot by Kings Matt Frattin
Marlin Levison, DML - Star Tribune
Upon further review Wild still had good game, bad result
- Article by: Michael Russo
- Star Tribune
- October 5, 2013 - 12:20 AM
Often coaches have a take after a game, sleep on it, watch video and change their tune the next morning.
That wasn’t the case Friday with coach Mike Yeo, who still felt the Wild outplayed the Los Angeles Kings in Thursday’s season opener and deserved better than the one point received in a shootout loss.
“We played a really good game, but obviously it wasn’t enough, so let’s be prepared to play a great game [Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks],” Yeo said, adding later: “I don’t think we should sit here and just pat ourselves on the back too much. Bottom line is we didn’t win.
“We played a good game, and I know if we continue to play better and grow every part of our game, then the wins will come.”
There were plenty of good signs Thursday. The Wild controlled large portions of the game. The team scored a power-play goal, registered 10 power-play shots, held the Kings to 11 shots through two periods and showed signs of a faster, more aggressive offense.
Yeo was happy with checking-line center Kyle Brodziak, who is looking to rebound after last year’s tough season. He assisted on Matt Cooke’s goal, had three hits, three shots and won seven of nine faceoffs.
“I was really happy to see him, the way he was skating, he looked really confident out there, winning his battles,” Yeo said of Brodziak. “He has to be physical, and he had a couple real good hits and that has to be part of his game.
“We can only say it so many times, ‘Let’s hit the reset button and everything,’ but we’re kidding ourselves if we think it’s not in the back of our minds. For him to get off to a good start, I think that really allows him to hit that refresh button and focus on this year now.”
Linemate Mikael Granlund also impressed the coach, as he did much of the preseason. Granlund assisted on both goals, skated well, was often first or second in on the forecheck and blocked two shots, including one that led to a quick rush up ice and drawn power play that could have won the game.
“He’s learned some other tricks,” Yeo said. “He’s adapting, and that’s what he needed.”
Second-year defenseman Jonas Brodin, looking to contribute more offensively after a terrific rookie year, scored a power-play goal.
It already makes for an interesting coaching decision for Yeo. Brodin was on the second power-play unit because rookie Matt Dumba was scratched. Veteran Clayton Stoner played instead of Dumba and “complemented [Keith Ballard] well” in a strong game.
Yeo wasn’t saying yet if Dumba will make his NHL debut against the Ducks, but if he does, it sounds as if Brodin will continue on that second unit. Yeo liked Brodin’s overall play on the man advantage and said, “It’s tough to take off a guy that’s scoring goals.”
The Wild went back to work in Friday’s practice, and the tone was set early when power-play consultant Andrew Brunette took a puck to the chin. He received four stitches inside his mouth and eight outside.
“I’ve had enough stitches to stitch a baseball in my career. I thought when I retired, ‘That’s it,’ ” Brunette said.
The Wild moved on without Brunette and worked on the “little things” that needed repair from Thursday. The tying goal by Jeff Carter came after Coyle was skated around in the neutral zone by Mike Richards. Coyle then glided into the zone and didn’t pick up Carter in time after a rebound.
It put a damper on an otherwise solid game for Coyle.
“You think you’re there, but you’re not,” Coyle said. “Just those little things, those inches. They play a big part in the game. Those things are huge. I pick up that guy and we win 2-1, you never know. It’s just little things that really matter.”
“That’s the thing you end up living with a little bit with young players,” Yeo said. ‘‘Young players, a lot of times they think they’ve got a guy, they’re close to a guy, but they don’t really have him.”
But Yeo added the Wild can’t “accept it,” and it’s up to the coaches to correct those mistakes.
“It was a solid game for the most part, so we’re not going to hang our heads,” Coyle said.
© 2013 Star Tribune