Wild game at Phoenix moves needle to "must win”

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 28, 2014 - 10:22 PM

Ryan Suter singled out shortcomings in the Wild’s special teams play.

hide

Defensemen Ryan Suter, left, and Jared Spurgeon were pretty well spent after a night on which the Blues’ T.J. Oshie (74) burned the Wild for a hat trick in a 5-1 victory. Olympic hero Oshie also capitalized on a Wild special-teams lapse by scoring a a shorthanded goal.

Photo: JEFF ROBERSON • Associated Press,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

– The Wild, winners of three of its past 12 games and suddenly on fragile footing, enjoyed a day in the 80-degree Valley of the Sun on Friday.

“Coach has been great getting us away from the rink so we can recharge,” defenseman Ryan Suter said after Thursday’s 5-1 beating in St. Louis. “I almost say we should go practice to try to get feeling good about yourself.

“When you’re so inconsistent right now, it’s tough to get momentum and feel good about yourself.”

The Wild had a collective bargaining agreement- mandated day off, so coach Mike Yeo scheduled the relaxing off day weeks in advance. Players lounged by the hotel pool and played pingpong in the courtyard. They were seeking to clear their minds heading into Saturday’s vitally important clash against the Phoenix Coyotes, who are one point behind in the Western Conference playoff race.

“If we play like [Thursday], we’re not going to be around too long,” Suter said. “We better figure it out fast and come out ready to play.”

The Wild, after a 9-2-2 run before the trade deadline, has taken a turn for the worse in every facet. In 12 games since March 5, the Wild has given up three goals or more nine times. Its goaltending has been unstable. Suter called special teams “terrible,” as the Wild is 14.6 percent on power plays and 64.6 percent on the penalty kill.

And the Wild has averaged 2½ goals per game, although that’s actually a slight improvement for the NHL’s 27th-ranked offense.

So, it’s not a shock the Wild is 3-5-4 in those 12 games.

On the other hand, the Coyotes are 7-2-1 in their past 10 and 9-4-1 this month. They are coming off a five-point, three-game road trip in which they moved within one point of the skidding seventh-place Wild.

“As frustrating and as tough as [the Blues game] was, we’ve got to look at it as if we’ve got to beat Phoenix now,” forward Zach Parise said. “It’s frustrating. There’s no question. I feel like right now when we do make a mistake, it’s in the back of our net. But not only that, we’re not doing ourselves any favors. We’re making it hard on ourselves.

“Our special teams haven’t been good. You need those to win games. The majority of the time you win the special teams game, you win the game. That hasn’t been the case for us.”

Heatley struggling

The pressure is squarely on Yeo’s shoulders. The ninth-place Dallas Stars are charging from the rear, and with Yeo in the final year of his contract, he will likely be the fall guy if the Wild misses the playoffs.

Yeo noted before Thursday’s game at St. Louis that the Wild needed to find consistency in its game, and it started with several underperformers.

He said this while discussing veteran Dany Heatley’s recent struggles. Heatley has four shots in the past 11 games, no goals since Feb. 27, no power-play points since Feb. 6, is minus-7 the past five games and a team-worst minus-18.

Before two recent games Yeo sounded as if it’s getting close to the time he might have to pull Heatley from the lineup. Interestingly, Yeo’s mentor, Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, had no qualms scratching veterans Mike Ribeiro and Derek Morris during consecutive victories in Pittsburgh and New Jersey this week.

Yeo might have to make a similar difficult decision, perhaps as early as Saturday, with Heatley.

Confidence falling

  • related content

  • Game preview: Wild at Phoenix

    Friday March 28, 2014

    wild gameday8 P.M. at Phoenix • FSN, 100.3 FMPreview: A Wild loss means the Coyotes leapfrog into the top wild-card...

  • Emblematic of how it’s been going for the Wild: Vancouver’s Jannik Hansen cleared Zach Parise away from the goal on Wednesday.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 7:07 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 7:00 PM
Miami
Indiana 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Utah 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Portland 8:00 PM
Denver
Phoenix 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
Golden State
San Jose 6:00 PM
Boston
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Toronto 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Detroit 6:30 PM
Montreal
Arizona 7:00 PM
Nashville
Carolina 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Philadelphia 7:30 PM
Chicago
Vancouver 7:30 PM
Dallas
Florida 8:00 PM
Colorado
Tampa Bay 8:00 PM
Calgary
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Are you happy to see the Royals in the World Series?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close