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Michael Russo gives you complete coverage of the Minnesota Wild and the NHL

Despite defeats, Yeo still sees his team taking steps

Wild coach Mike Yeo continued, Friday, to talk about the progress his team has made in recent games. At the same time, he understands that such talk can be frustrating when said improvement doesn’t result in victories.

“Well, what choice do we have?’’ Yeo said after Friday’s optional skate. “We have to keep saying that, and every game we’ll try to get better. These are good teams we’re playing. Not saying we’re not good enough to compete with them, that’s for sure. Right now, that’s where we’ve gotten to, a point where we have to build it back piece by piece. My sense is that it’s coming. We have two choices. We can quit and abandon everything we’re doing, or we can keep building onto what we have and see where that takes us. That’s the spirit and fight I will bring, and that’s the spirit and the fight that I know our leaders and the character of the guys in the room will bring. We’re very disappointed with the way things have gone. But how you react is far more important that what has happened.’’

In that vein, Yeo said he had considered lineup changes for Saturday's matinee with Boston. But, after having watched Thursday’s loss to Washington again, is leaning towards keeping the lineup the same.

“We’re still considering that,” Yeo said. “Obviously this morning, driving to the rink, you wake up after another not very good sleep and another day and another missed opportunity, ready to pretty much do whatever we have to do. And then, watching the game over again, I have a different feel. I’m not going to sit here and paint a picture of how great everything is. But I feel the last two or three games, despite not getting the results….. There’s a little bit of a flame here. And we just have to stoke the fire a little more.’’

Yeo said the team created enough scoring chances. If that continues, he said, he’s confident the results will change.

Other items from today:

--Most players were out for the optional skate. The one ones missing were Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella, Ryan Suter and Charlie Coyle.

--Spurgeon, who has missed two games with a deep bruise, is “questionable to doubtful,’’ according to Yeo. “But, knowing him, I’m not ready to rule him out,” Yeo said. “If he’s ready to come out and battle and compete at the level he’s capable of, we’d love to put him in the lineup. But if he’s not there, then we’re confident with the group we have.’’

Thanks for your time. Mr. Russo will be with the team Saturday.

Postgame: Yeo even has hard time finding positives after latest defeat; Live Chat today

Mike Yeo’s demeanor was that of a dejected, defeated man after tonight’s 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals, although he quickly denied that when I made note of it.

But even when asked about the quality of play from guys like Charlie Coyle and Matt Dumba tonight, the Wild coach naturally couldn’t bring himself to go there after the Wild’s seventh consecutive overall loss (0-5-2), seventh consecutive home loss (0-4-3), 12th loss in the past 13 games (1-10-2) and 15th loss in 18 games in 2016 (3-11-4).

Devan Dubnyk is 0-8-1 since Jan. 9. The Wild has given up 21 goals the past five games and at least four goals in five of the past six games. It has been outscored 13-3 in the past five second periods.

The Caps have 40 wins and 84 points, 17 more wins and 28 more points than the Wild. The Wild has lost 10 games in regulation since Jan. 10; the Caps nine games in regulation in 53 games this season.

The Wild hasn’t won since Jan. 21. The Wild hasn’t won at home since Dec. 28.

If the Wild doesn’t beat the Boston Bruins in a 1 p.m. matinee Saturday, it’ll equal the franchise-record longest home winless streak set during its inaugural season in 2000-2001 … when there were ties (0-3-5).

So, imagine this irony: The Wild could potentially be carrying a franchise-record-tying home winless streak into the Feb. 21 outdoor game it has long awaited.

Seems like a perfect time for me to host a live chat on startribune.com/wild at 1:45 p.m. Friday.

Pray for me.

I’ll also be hosting a special brunch podcast at 10 a.m. at Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub down the street from Xcel Energy Center on Saturday. Come on down and join the fun. I may need to drink a bloody before the game.

Tonight, Coyle scored his fifth goal in eight games and his 15th this season. When a reporter asked about Coyle, no offense to Coyle, Yeo could barely stomach an answer.

“It’s hard to…that’s what we have to do, I guess,” he said. “It’s hard to keep pointing to bright spots and positives right now, but if you fall down seven times, you get up eight. That’s what we have to do right now, and there are good signs. The power play got another one tonight, I know we want more than that, but the power play has been starting to get goals for us. Our big-name guys are starting to find the back of the net to get points. That’s another good sign, but we need wins. Generally we’re a team that we preach the process and we’re better that way for sure but we’re beyond that.”

On Dumba, who extended his point streak to five games with an assist and had 15 shot attempts, Yeo said, “He's taken a step.”

When his demeanor what noted, that he looked down and drained, Yeo perked up and said, “Heck yeah, of course. But there will never be a time where I start feeling sorry for myself, or for our group. I'll never stop trying to find a solution. And maybe the solution is to stop trying to find a solution (smiling). Maybe it's to leave it alone and just kind of put it in their hands, and let's just go work it out. But that's what we'll do. We'll come back, and we'll do what we have to do [Thursday] tonight to get ready, and we'll come back [Friday] with a great attitude. If there's one thing that I can say that I'm very proud of our guys, it's we're competing right now. Even the third period, the way we fought back again tonight, it would be a lesser group, a group without that character would quit, and I haven't seen that from that group.”

As you can read in the gamer, Alex Ovechkin scored three second-period goals and had 10 shots for his 14th career hat trick and the 17th all-time against the Wild.

He was wide open backdoor on the first two. He got lost somehow, and the pucks just found him.

“Those are goal scorer’s goals,” said Ryan Suter. “They have the best goal scorer ever maybe, and he got three on us.

“I mean, puck bounces right to him first one, second one off the back wall. Third one bounces out of the pule right to him. We need to start getting those breaks.”

The third one, which would have been the game-winner until Mikael Granlund scored his first goal with a goalie in net since Nov. 21 with 1.7 seconds left, looked like it may have been offside. The puck on replay certainly looked like it crossed over the blue line, but there are no cameras on the blue line and the linesmen are looking at tiny little screens.

Linesman Jay Sharrers, according to Suter, said they couldn’t find that perfect angle to show it was conclusively offside, so the goal counted.

“I saw it in real life, and on the replay it looked even more offside,” Suter said. “[Sharrers] said he doesn't have enough angles. He said he can’t overturn it because he can't see it clearly. If they're going to have the rule, they better get some more cameras, I think.”

Said Yeo, “What are we going to do? Are we going to cry about it and feel sorry for ourselves? Obviously that was a big moment in the game. I thought we had some good momentum going at that time. We scored and we were coming and there’s good energy in the building. They scored the goal, and it counted. So what can you do? It’s frustrating. I’m not going to try to paint a picture of every bounce is going against us right now, but pucks are bouncing off us and in or off end boards right to certain guys or plays like that. If that’s what we have to deal with, that’s what we have to deal with.”

Asked if the league needs better camera positions for offside challenges, Yeo said, “I don’t think I’m in a state of mind to start figuring out what’s best for the league right now.”

Wild players continue to try to keep their heads up.

Said Coyle, “We gotta find ways. We keep saying we’re taking strides and that’s the positive thing to do and I think we are, but we gotta get that end result. … We have to stay positive during this. Going the other way is only going to do us worse.  We know once we come out of this funk, we’re going to be a better team because of it, so we just need to keep that in mind.”

Said Marco Scandella, “It’s a tough one but the game is over now. We have to stick together. We have to keep playing hard and we can’t keep making those mistakes. I think we’re shooting ourselves in the foot. We gotta find a way to win. … Usually, it gets worse before it gets better. But we have to keep our heads on straight, everyone has to battle and we have to stick together. We have to be a team here.”

On the horrible second periods lately, Yeo said, “It’s tough to put a finger on that one. We obviously have been starting games well and it doesn’t take much in that second period to lose a little momentum. It comes down to puck work, execution. You could see there were a number of times we’d make one play but couldn’t make the second play tonight, and if you’re not executing properly, in that second period with that long change you’re going to spend more time in your own zone. I feel that’s been a big part of this trend that’s going on. We’ve been spending a lot more time in our own zone in the second period.”

Barring news, Kent Youngblood has practice Friday as I would on my Sunday package and conduct that chat.

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Lastly, give @dakota_case a follow on Twitter, send him a shoutout and keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

I got to meet the 25-year-old Wild fan and his awesone parents tonight. They were hosted by all-around good guy Nate Prosser. The Hockey Wilderness blogger and budding sportscaster from Sioux Falls is being admitted indefinitely to a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, next week as he awaits a heart transplant.

Dakota's had a tough go his entire life, and if you remember, he was hospitalized much of last summer causing him to miss the second part of the Stanley Cup Final, the draft and the Mike Reilly and Devan Dubnyk signings.

The passionate and very knowledgeable Wild fan fought his doctors to come to tonight's game. Much to their chagrin, he won.

All the best to Dakota and his family.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

< >
  • Gophers men's hockey at Ohio State

    5:30 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Minnesota Duluth

    7:07 pm

  • Boston at Wild

    1 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Minnesota Duluth

    4:07 pm

  • Gophers men's hockey at Ohio State

    6 pm on 1500-AM

  • Gophers men's basketball at Iowa

    6:30 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Iowa at Gophers women's basketball

    7 pm on BTN, 88.5-FM

  • Wild at Vancouver

    9 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Wild at Calgary

    9 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Gophers women's basketball at Indiana

    6 pm on 88.5-FM

  • Maryland at Gophers men's basketball

    7 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Wild at Edmonton

    8 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

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