If you’re a Wild fan and down at the State Fair today, please stop by the Star Tribune booth at 12:30 p.m. Wild GM Chuck Fletcher will be joining me for a Q and A. We will open it up to the audience, too. If you can't come, please leave questions in the comment section and I will ask a few. The Q and A will also be live-streamed on the web site and highlights will appear on the site later on.
In today’s newspaper, I have an article (can be read here) about former Wild left wing Andrew Brunette, the Wild’s advisor to the hockey operations department who will add power-play consultant to his repertoire this upcoming season.
Nobody has been on the ice for more power-play goals in Wild history, so coach Mike Yeo called “Bruno” an “invaluable resource.”
In concert, Brunette and Yeo will come up with the power-play units. Several will be tried in training camp, which begins Sept. 11.
“We can’t figure that out because we don’t know who will be here yet,” Yeo said. “We’ve got to find out if [Mikael Granlund’s] going to be here, if [Jason Zucker] is going to be here and so on. [Nino] Niederreiter, too. A [newcomer] like him, we don’t really know enough about yet.”
As of now, Brunette says he doesn’t plan any dramatic changes. For instance, the power play won’t be quarterbacked from, say, behind the net, which was Brunette’s specialty.
He plans tweaks and he plans to sit down with some of the key power-play guys on the Wild and kick around ideas with them.
“The power play is a finicky thing,” Brunette said. “It seems if it’s not scoring, it really gets bashed and if you are scoring and still not doing the right things, it’s let go. It’s one of those things where it’s hard to explain what makes a good and bad power play. You can talk about shots on goal, puck possession, but at the end of the day, if the puck’s in the net, it’s valued as successful.”
Last year, the Wild’s power play improved from 27th in the NHL in Mike Yeo’s first season to 16th. However, it went 0 for 17 in the playoffs and despite being the second-best power play on the road during the regular season, it ranked a lowly 28th at home.
Brunette has some ideas. So does Yeo. They’ll be looking to generate more quality shots, get more shots through without being blocked and improve on the overall net-front presence of the team.
“I think our whole game can be better, but especially [our net-front play] on the power play,” Brunette said. “It has to be a mentality everybody has to take. It can’t just be one guy that stands in front of the net.”
Brunette still has several duties for hockey ops, like scouting and heading to Des Moines to work with the prospects. So Brunette won’t take over the power play as a whole because sometimes he won’t be around.
But Yeo said everything about the power play will be discussed with Brunette and when he’s in town and Yeo feels it’s time to work the power play significantly on the ice, Brunette will take the ice.
At July’s development camp, Brunette donned a coach’s track suit with director of player development Brad Bombardir to work with the prospects. He had a blast.
“I really enjoyed that, and it was very fulfilling working with the kids and trying to find things to help them out and be a little bit better,” Brunette said.
Yeo first talked to Brunette about taking over the power play around the draft in June. They talked more about it a few weeks ago to determine how it would work.
Assistant coach Darryl Sydor used to run the power play, but Yeo wants to use Sydor in other areas.
“I really want to concentrate on individual work, skill work, getting on the ice early, video or even spending more time with the players this year,” Yeo said. “I can’t do everything. As much as I’d love to, the head coach doesn’t have as much opportunity to do the one-on-one work that quite often you wish to do.
“A lot of that falls on the assistants, so this is about freeing up time for Syd to spend more time with the players. It’s something that he’s really strong at.”
Below is a chart that wound up not squeezing into today’s newspaper. Also, see you at the Fair. Please stop by!
Lastly, Avery Peterson, the Wild's sixth-round pick and Grand Rapids native, has committed to Nebraska-Omaha, the Duluth News Tribune reports. He was recruited by St. Cloud State, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ohio State. As of the draft, he planned to play at Sioux City of the USHL this upcoming season.
Also, Bjorn Krupp -- Uwe Krupp's son -- will clear unconditional waivers today so the Wild can officially terminate his contract. Paper move.
WILD POWER PLAY
Andrew Brunette, who has been on the ice for more power-play goals (216) in Wild history and ranks second in Wild history with 55 power-play goals, is the team’s new power-play consultant. Brunette scored 114 career power-play goals, and his 108 from 1998-99 to 2011-12 ranked 15th in the NHL during that span. Here are some facts about the Wild’s power play:
Power play under coach Mike Yeo:
2011-12: Ranked 27th overall (15.1 percent); ranked 13th at home, 30th on the road)
2012-13: Ranked 16th overall (17.9 percent); ranked 28th at home, 2nd on the road)
Dany Heatley: Since 2001-02, the Wild right wing leads the NHL with 139 power-play goals. (Ilya Kovalchuk 138, Teemu Selanne 133, Jarome Iginla 128 and Alex Ovechkin 127). The Wild scored five power-play goals in 17 games after he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury April 3.
Mikko Koivu: Scored no power-play goals last season but 13 power-play assists. Ranks fourth in Wild history with 36 power-play goals, first with 109 power-play points and tied with Marian Gaborik for first with 145 power-play points. Has been on the ice for 191 power-play goals, fourth in Wild history.
Zach Parise and Jason Pominville: Combined for 101 career power-play goals.
Ryan Suter: In his first season with the Wild, he had 12 power-play assists and 15 power-play points.
More from Star Tribune
More from Russo's Rants
Wild coach Mike Yeo continued to talk about the progress his team has made in recent games, but understands that people are frustrated when the progress doesn't result in victories.
Alex Ovechkin's hat trick helped hand the Wild its seventh consecutive home loss.
The Caps are the best team in the NHL, and goalie Braden Holtby has been the winningest goalie in the league. So the Wild would be facing quite a challenge, even if it was playing well.
Wild coach Mike Yeo, whose team faces Washington on Thursday, knows the pressure is on and he's been spending a lot of time meeting with general manager Chuck Fletcher. "That's the life of a coach in the NHL," Yeo said.
Thomas Vanek's overtime mistake proved costly as the Wild fell for a sixth straight game and 11th time in 12 games.