Wild gears up to recapture winning formula

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 25, 2014 - 2:18 PM

By the time Thursday rolls around, Minnesota will have gone three weeks without a game.

The Wild last played 2½ weeks ago.

“It feels like months,” winger Jason Pominville said.

The Olympic break is over and the Wild hopes to rediscover the momentum that might have been lost by players scattering for vacation or, in the case of four, the Sochi Games.

The Wild was 11-4-2 in 17 games since the calendar turned to 2014 and has a five-point cushion in the playoff race.

“We finished off the right way,” said Pominville, the Wild’s leading scorer with 22 goals and 40 points in 59 games. “We went into the break feeling good about our game, and we’ve had some good practices. The only way to find that groove again is to try to bring back those good habits that we had.”

Wild coach Mike Yeo spent Monday’s practice reintroducing his system, from neutral-zone forechecks to breakouts. There were 5-on-5 line rushes and other gamelike situations.

Top-six forwards Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund and No. 1 defenseman Ryan Suter returned from Russia late Sunday and won’t practice until Wednesday. That means the lines rushes being deployed in practice won’t be the lines in Edmonton and Vancouver on Thursday and Friday.

“It’s going to be important for us to help these guys get their minds back in the right place,” Yeo said.

Captain Mikko Koivu, recovering from ankle surgery, took part in every drill Monday and practiced longer than he has since rejoining the team last Wednesday.

“If we had to play [Monday], he wouldn’t be able to play,” Yeo said. “So we’ve made some progress, but we’ve got to still gain a little bit more in the next couple days.”

Koivu missed 15 games and the Olympics, where he was slated to be Finland’s captain.

“When you know that you don’t think about it in the back of your mind, then you know for sure you’re ready to go,” Koivu said. “It’s a lot better right now than what it was last week, so that’s a good sign.”

Yeo said “potentially” he would keep the Parise-Granlund- Pominville line intact. That is notable because, other than one period this season against Montreal, Yeo hasn’t split Parise and Koivu in two seasons.

The Parise-Granlund-Pominville line followed some productive shifts together last month in Anaheim with nine points in a loss at Colorado. But in their final three games, they combined for three points and were each minus-3.

“Things went a little bit dry,” Yeo said. In his next breath, though, Yeo indicated it might make sense to keep Granlund there after his impressive Olympic performance. Granlund led Finland with seven points and was named to the all-tournament team.

Yeo wants to keep Kyle Brodziak at center and likes rookie Erik Haula there as well. By deduction, it sounds like Charlie Coyle will move from center to wing. The only thing all but certain is Pominville remaining with Granlund. They’ve had chemistry all season.

“Who knows what’s going to happen when Mikko’s back?” Pominville said. “Coaches are going to have some tough decisions to make, and for them that’s probably a good sign because it means we have a lot of depth on the team.”

The Wild isn’t the only team that has to regain momentum. Every team is on a level playing field after the season abruptly stopped.

“It’s been a nice break, but I’m ready to get going,” Yeo said. “Everybody has the same challenge. It’s no different really than starting the season — you want to start the season on a good note.”

  • related content

  • Parise didn't intend criticism of Bylsma

    Tuesday February 25, 2014

    Wild winger Zach Parise said comments he made after the United States lost to Finland in the bronze medal game Saturday were misconstrued and not intended to criticize U.S. Olympic...

  • Jason Pominville and the Wild will play for the first time in 2 1/2 weeks on Thursday, trying to regain the momentum they had before the Olympics.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Oakland - LP: D. Otero 8 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Frasor 9
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
NY Islanders 5 FINAL
Boston 3
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Tampa Bay 5 FINAL
Dallas 1
Colorado 0 FINAL
Calgary 2
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
San Jose 1
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question