Wild's Gillies sits out against Flames after 'step back'

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSOMRUSSO@STARTRIBUNE.COM
  • Updated: December 20, 2011 - 11:45 PM

The young forward is struggling to find the form that made him a key player in last season's AHL playoffs.

Wild left winger Colton Gillies (18) and Vancouver defenseman Alexander Sulzer (52) scrambled for control of the puck on Monday night.

Photo: Jonathan Hayward, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

CALGARY, ALBERTA - During last season's Houston Aeros' run to the Calder Cup Finals, Mike Yeo saw the best of Colton Gillies.

Over the past month though, Gillies' game with the Wild has been out of sorts. Tuesday against the Flames, Yeo scratched the 2007 first-round draft pick for the fourth time in 12 games. The latest benching came one game after Gillies took a game-turning penalty and was minus-2 in a 4-0 loss at Vancouver.

"He's just trying so darn hard," Yeo said. "He feels like he's letting the team down. He's not doing that. That's what he has to understand. He just has to go out and play his game. As soon as a guy like that tries to do too much and tries to do other people's jobs, ... that's when you get yourself into trouble."

Gillies, 22, was scratched three times in five games a few weeks ago. His game improved against the Blackhawks and Islanders before Yeo felt he took "another step backwards" against his hometown Canucks.

"I don't want to be just getting by in this league," Gillies said. "I want to make an impact and help the team. I care a lot. When guys get hurt, it's almost like, 'Now's my chance to step up.' Like [Monday] night, it's almost like I tried too hard. My legs tend to take me out of position, and I can't take penalties like that either."

Gillies is playing with shattered confidence. It showed on his dejected face Monday after a first-period hooking penalty, and on missed coverage on Vancouver's third goal.

"He's like a whipped puppy right now," Yeo said. "It's like he's waiting for something bad to happen."

Gillies has no goals, two assists and is minus-5 in 31 games. Yeo hopes the three-day holiday hiatus starting Friday will enable Gillies to clear his mind.

"I'm staying in Minnesota during Christmas because I want to be rested and ready to go after the break," Gillies said. "I do put a lot of pressure on myself. This is my first full year and there's a lot of learning that goes into that. It's just a matter of taking a step back and a few breaths."

Added Yeo: "It's our responsibility to try get him through this."

Playing it safe

Mikko Koivu skated for a third day in a row Tuesday but missed his third game because of a leg injury.

The Wild hopes its captain can play Thursday in Edmonton, but Yeo said, "We're not going to put a guy in there that's not ready to go. He felt it a little bit [Monday] still, so we've got to look at the big picture here. We can't rush Mikko back and then all of a sudden lose him for two to three weeks after that. We've got to be smart about this."

Etc.

• With Koivu out and Gillies scratched, Yeo dressed seven defensemen.

Justin Falk, who hadn't played since an "upper body" injury Nov. 27, returned, as did veteran Greg Zanon, who was scratched in two of the prior three games.

Mike Lundin, on the ice for three Canucks goals, was scratched.

"I'm not going to just blame him for that loss, but when we've got eight quality defensemen, performance will dictate some of it," Yeo said. "But a lot of it is also I want get Falky back in. He's healthy, he's ready to go."

Yeo said he has been impressed by Zanon's professionalism. "It's real difficult for a guy like that to get scratched, and he's been hard working, he's had a great attitude and he'll compete in a tough [Calgary] building."

• The Wild reassigned Chad Rau to Houston.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 0 1st Qtr 13:40
Seattle 0
Miami 83 FINAL
Boston 75
LA Lakers 80 FINAL
New York 92
Arizona 3 FINAL
Montreal 2
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Nashville 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Miami-Florida 54 FINAL
Florida State 55
Oakland 96 FINAL
Youngstown St 80
Cincinnati 46 FINAL
East Carolina 50
Michigan 66 FINAL
Michigan State 76
Marist 75 FINAL
Canisius 67
Fordham 77 FINAL
Dayton 101
Manhattan 87 FINAL
Monmouth 76
Quinnipiac 100 FINAL
Niagara 105
Utah 67 FINAL
USC 39
Connecticut 68 FINAL
Houston 70
California 90 FINAL
Washington 88
North Dakota St 64 FINAL
Western Ill 62
Penn State 65 FINAL
(22) Rutgers 76
(14) Texas 59 FINAL
TCU 64
Coll of Charleston 49 FINAL
Towson 71
Cornell 53 FINAL
Yale 60
Xavier 68 FINAL
Providence 57
Drexel 61 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 44
Stony Brook 60 FINAL
New Hampshire 52
Maine 52 FINAL
Albany 44
Miami-Florida 66 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
(21) Georgia 72 FINAL
(10) Kentucky 80
Arizona 69 FINAL
Colorado 81
Wake Forest 63 FINAL
(4) Notre Dame 92
Loyola-Chicago 56 FINAL
Illinois State 72
(24) Oklahoma 69 FINAL
West Virginia 78
St Johns 73 FINAL
Seton Hall 78
Delaware 73 FINAL
Hofstra 62
Binghamton 49 FINAL
UMass Lowell 66
Vermont 49 FINAL
Hartford 60
William & Mary 72 FINAL
Northeastern 66
Boston College 60 FINAL
(16) North Carolina 72
Virginia 77 FINAL
Clemson 72
(2) Connecticut 83 FINAL
Temple 49
Arkansas 53 FINAL
Alabama 42
Virginia Tech 71 FINAL
Georgia Tech 79
Kansas 58 FINAL
(3) Baylor 66
Canisius 51 FINAL
Rider 52
Monmouth 52 FINAL
Fairfield 54
Quinnipiac 81 FINAL
Saint Peters 50
Butler 55 FINAL
Creighton 62
Wichita State 61 FINAL
Drake 64
Evansville 52 FINAL
Indiana State 67
(18) Miss State 67 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
Villanova 47 FINAL
DePaul 49
Georgetown 73 FINAL
Marquette 80
North Texas 55 FINAL
Rice 58
Auburn 45 FINAL
(12) Texas A&M 78
(11) Arizona State 58 FINAL
Utah 48
Missouri State 56 FINAL
Northern Iowa 64
Michigan 60 FINAL
(15) Nebraska 75
Minnesota 49 FINAL
Northwestern 70
Wisconsin 73 FINAL
Illinois 62
Bradley 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 76
Florida 67 FINAL
Vanderbilt 58
(20) Iowa 88 FINAL
(5) Maryland 93
(1) South Carolina 67 2nd Half 3:58
Ole Miss 47
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which of these teams is the most frustrating to watch right now?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close