With meetings over, coaches put Zidlicky on ice, and on notice

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 5, 2012 - 1:47 AM

Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky.

Photo: Jim Mone, Associated Press

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DALLAS — Five days after airing publicly his unhappiness over being scratched and how Mike Yeo was using him, defenseman Marek Zidlicky was unchained and released from the coach's doghouse Saturday night against the Dallas Stars.

Of course, if the veteran had not played with defenseman Clayton Stoner out due to a lower-body injury, that would have been a sure sign that Yeo was not willing to forgive and forget after he and General Manager Chuck Fletcher met with Zidlicky during separate meetings.

"This is how we've done things all year -- we've given guys chances to respond," Yeo said. "The reason we took Zids out of the lineup in the first place was not to punish him or try to make any point. It was hopefully to get him to find another level in his game. We tried some other things, and that didn't work. Hopefully this will."

Before Saturday's game, Zidlicky was a minus-9 in his past 13 games -- minus-5 in his past two. He had no goals in 34 games and only 38 shots (1.1 a game) -- not enough for a big-shot defenseman.

"His shot totals aren't high enough," Yeo said. "Hopefully when he's out there, he puts that upon his shoulders. He's a guy that can carry the power play by himself."

Christensen's debut

Erik Christensen, acquired Friday from the New York Rangers for Casey Wellman, made his Wild debut. Christensen is hoping to resurrect his career after not playing since Dec. 17.

He is known as a player tormented by his own expectations and sometimes he gets weighed down by the pressure he puts on himself.

"Trying to be consistent has always been my biggest fault," he said. "I'm the first one to admit that. I know that's what gets thrown around when people say my name, but I feel like when I'm playing well and feeling good, I can make a lot of plays."

Christensen said he never fit into the Rangers' meat-and-potatoes identity of hard-nosed hockey.

Problem is: That's Yeo's style, too.

"I don't think he can't fit into what we're doing here," Yeo said. "We wouldn't have gotten him if we thought that. I've seen what he can do. I've seen him play in hard areas. He's not a guy that's going to probably throw elbows at guys' faces all night long, but he should be a guy that goes and competes in corners.

"The one thing we ask our guys, everybody has to play the game physically, everybody has to play the game hard, but everybody does it in their own way, too. He's going to do it differently than Cal Clutterbuck, but he's going to have to do it as well."

Because he hasn't played a lot of hockey, Christensen said it "will take some time to get back to where the rest of these guys are."

Kassian sits out

After being scratched four consecutive games, Brad Staubitz played for Matt Kassian because the tough Kassian didn't "have a whole lot of customers" during the Jan. 21 Wild-Stars meeting, Yeo said.

"It was hard for him to hold guys accountable," Yeo said of Kassian. "They're not really in his [weight] class."

Staubitz entered with no points in 41 games and said, "I'm a little overdue to get a point."

Asked what he thought of Edmonton's Sam Gagner racking up eight in one game Thursday, Staubitz joked, "That's a season for me."


• Yeo said Stoner is "limping around a little bit" and needs to be examined by a Wild doctor before a timetable is known.

• Defenseman Mike Lundin was scratched for a fifth consecutive game.

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