With Wild still winless, Yeo makes some changes

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 10, 2013 - 11:55 AM

The coach got good news on goalie Niklas Backstrom’s knee injury. And he’s trying to fix what ails his team.

 

Mike Yeo was relieved to hear Wednesday that goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who strained his right knee in Tuesday’s loss at Nashville, is not expected to be sidelined for long. Still, the Wild coach confirmed that Josh Harding will start in goal Thursday against Winnipeg — and the rest of the lineup will look different as well.

With the Wild still searching for its first victory of the season, Yeo spent Wednesday’s practice tinkering with his line combinations and defensive pairs. The team also made a roster change, sending forwards Jason Zucker and Carson McMillan back to the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Iowa and recalling Stephane Veilleux. While Yeo and his players do not think major changes are necessary, they agreed that the details still need refining in order to escape an 0-1-2 start.

Even as Yeo praised his team’s overall play, he pointed out shortcomings, such as failing to go to the net or defensive lapses that hand an opponent a premium scoring chance. Closer attention to those particulars, he said, will make all the difference against the Jets at Xcel Energy Center.

“The urgency has been there,’’ Yeo said of his team. “But the focus and how to direct it, we’ve been a little off there.

“We don’t have a win yet in three games. That has to be on our minds. But there also have been some positives. So let’s learn from the things that haven’t been good enough, let’s focus on the things that have been really good, and take that into the next game and figure out how to make sure we get rid of that goose egg.’’

Backstrom was hurt when Nashville forward Eric Nystrom barreled into him in the first period of Tuesday’s 3-2 loss, pushing the goalie’s right leg into the goalpost. He did not practice Wednesday and is listed as day to day. Yeo said Backstrom will be reexamined Thursday morning and could be healthy enough to serve as Harding’s backup against Winnipeg.

The Wild is averaging 2.33 goals over its first three games, ranking it 18th in the NHL. To stimulate more scoring, Yeo moved first-line winger Jason Pominville to the second line with center Mikael Granlund and winger Dany Heatley. Winger Nino Niederreiter was elevated to the top line with Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise.

Justin Fontaine will team with Kyle Brodziak and Matt Cooke on the third line, with the trio of Veilleux, Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell handling fourth-line duties. Zucker, who was recalled Sunday to fill the roster spot vacated by the injured Charlie Coyle, was sent to Iowa.

“He wasn’t going to factor in on the third line,’’ Yeo said of Zucker, “and we weren’t going to play him on the fourth.’’

The new look, Yeo said, gives speed and balance to the fourth line and puts Pominville in position to jump-start a sputtering second line.

“Looking at [Tuesday’s loss], our top line had probably 90 percent of our scoring chances,’’ Yeo said. “Certainly, they should lead the way, but we need something from somebody else.

“Nino has played very well through three games. He’s a guy that should be able to factor in on that top line and have a positive impact. [The new second line] should have the potential to create offense for us, too.’’

Yeo also switched some defensive pairings Wednesday. He teamed Matt Dumba with Clayton Stoner, reprising a tandem that played effectively against Winnipeg in the preseason, and Keith Ballard will play with Jared Spurgeon.

Harding performed well under challenging circumstances Tuesday. He surrendered a goal on the penalty shot awarded to Nystrom after his collision with Backstrom, then shut out Nashville through the rest of the game.

Thursday’s game marks Harding’s first start of the season after he recorded an 0.83 goals-against average and .962 save percentage in preseason play.

“I came in here knowing I’m going to have to play some big games and find a way to win,’’ Harding said. “There are still things I have to clean up in my game. Winning a couple of games in the preseason doesn’t mean anything if you don’t do it in the regular season.’’

His teammates can identify with that sentiment.

“I think we’re still playing good hockey,’’ Parise said. “We just need to be a little sharper in different areas. We’re still in a good mood. Everyone is in good spirits. It’s just frustrating that we haven’t won.’’

  • related content

  • Gameday preview: Winnipeg at Wild

    Wednesday October 9, 2013

    wild gameday7 P.M. vs. Winnipeg • XCEL Center• FSN, 100.3-FMPreview: Expect to see plenty of Jets fans in town for...

  • Backstrom day-to-day, and line changes galore

    Wednesday October 9, 2013

    Josh Harding will start in goal Thursday against Winnipeg, but Niklas Backstrom might back him up. Also Wednesday, Jason Zucker is sent down, Stephane Veilleux is called up and Mike...

  • Josh Harding stopped 16 of 17 shots over two periods in a 4-1 Wild victory over Winnipeg in the preseason, and he’ll start against the Jets tonight at Xcel Energy Center.

  • Backstrom

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 3
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 12 FINAL
Seattle - LP: E. Ramirez 4
Washington - LP: D. Fister 4 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 8
Tampa Bay - WP: D. Smyly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 1
Boston - LP: T. Layne 2 FINAL
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 5
NY Yankees - WP: S. Greene 8 FINAL
Detroit - LP: D. Price 4
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: Z. Wheeler 2
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: M. Latos 7
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: H. Noesi 3
Minnesota - LP: P. Hughes 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: W. Davis 6
Oakland 2 Top 9th Inning
Houston 3
Milwaukee 2 Bottom 7th Inning
San Diego 0
Los Angeles 3 Top 6th Inning
Arizona 1
Miami 1 Bottom 5th Inning
LA Angels 4
Colorado 0 Bottom 4th Inning
San Francisco 1
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:02 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
D.C. 0 2nd Half
Los Angeles 3
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
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 local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close