Latendresse is Wild's latest casualty

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 12, 2011 - 8:03 AM

A check into the boards in Thursday's loss put the Wild power forward on the sidelines indefinitely.

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Guillaume Latendresse

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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LOS ANGELES - The Wild, having a hard enough time filling the net as it is, will be without power forward Guillaume Latendresse, who has been sidelined indefinitely because of a concussion suffered in Thursday’s loss to the San Jose Sharks.

"Certainly it’s a loss — a big loss, and I think Gui’s been playing some really good hockey for us," coach Mike Yeo said. "But we don’t have time to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves. I still believe we have plenty of guys in our lineup that can put the puck in the net."

That hasn’t been the case through 15 games. The Wild is the second-lowest scoring team in the NHL at 2.13 goals per game. Only four forwards, including Latendresse, have scored more than three goals, with Matt Cullen leading the way with six.

Captain Mikko Koivu has one goal in 15 games. Only one defenseman — Marco Scandella — has more than one goal.

"We’ve made great strides with our play away from the puck," Yeo said. "But where we can continue to get better is our game with the puck. The areas where we can get better at will help lead to more offense."

As with all concussions, Latendresse’s timetable is inexact, but as Yeo said, "You hear that word [concussion], you don’t expect to have them back in a day or two anymore, that’s for sure."

For the short term, the Wild won’t call up another forward.

Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings, Warren Peters will enter the lineup and center the fourth line. Yeo said the coaching staff was still debating whether to move Cal Clutterbuck or Nick Johnson to Latendresse’s spot on the first line, but it is likely to be Clutterbuck. Johnson played well on a line with Darroll Powe and Kyle Brodziak during Tuesday’s victory at Calgary.

Latendresse was injured in the second period Thursday when Sharks defenseman Doug Murray checked him into the boards. However, he also was driven face first into the glass Tuesday in Calgary by defenseman Mark Giordano.

Yeo said Latendresse was symptom-free after that hit, but "the way a lot of these things happen, sometimes the thing that really triggers it and brings the symptoms out can be a result of something that happened earlier.

"We’ll make sure we get this taken care of right."

In the meantime, Yeo spent Friday’s practice trying to re-instill good habits. He has not liked the Wild playing a "game of chance" the past two games.

One game after surviving Calgary despite giving the Flames seven power plays, the Wild gave the Sharks — owners of the NHL’s top home power play — five, and saw its five-game win streak end because of it.

"That is why you can’t keep doing that," Yeo said. "There’s two glaring differences in the game for me between our team and their team. One was the discipline. The second was they were much stronger on the puck than we were.

"I thought we had way too many turnovers. But that’s one of the benefits of having the puck. You force the other team to take hooking penalties, holding penalties, tripping penalties like we did."

Brodziak said the Wild needs to get back to quality forechecking and stop spending so much time in its end. "It just makes it a lot harder game when you’re backchecking the whole night," he said.

Yeo said it begins with puck placement and puck support.

"There’s a little bit of standing around and watching somebody else do the work," Yeo said. "I don’t think our second layer of our forecheck was very good [Thursday]. And because of that we go in, we make contact and their next guy is getting there before we are to make the play."

Yeo expects a big response against the Kings.

"Maybe [Thursday’s loss] is going to end up being a good thing for us," Yeo said. "It’s a reminder we’re not even close to where we need to be yet."

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