Wild game at Phoenix moves needle to "must win”

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 28, 2014 - 10:22 PM

Ryan Suter singled out shortcomings in the Wild’s special teams play.

hide

Defensemen Ryan Suter, left, and Jared Spurgeon were pretty well spent after a night on which the Blues’ T.J. Oshie (74) burned the Wild for a hat trick in a 5-1 victory. Olympic hero Oshie also capitalized on a Wild special-teams lapse by scoring a a shorthanded goal.

Photo: JEFF ROBERSON • Associated Press,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

– The Wild, winners of three of its past 12 games and suddenly on fragile footing, enjoyed a day in the 80-degree Valley of the Sun on Friday.

“Coach has been great getting us away from the rink so we can recharge,” defenseman Ryan Suter said after Thursday’s 5-1 beating in St. Louis. “I almost say we should go practice to try to get feeling good about yourself.

“When you’re so inconsistent right now, it’s tough to get momentum and feel good about yourself.”

The Wild had a collective bargaining agreement- mandated day off, so coach Mike Yeo scheduled the relaxing off day weeks in advance. Players lounged by the hotel pool and played pingpong in the courtyard. They were seeking to clear their minds heading into Saturday’s vitally important clash against the Phoenix Coyotes, who are one point behind in the Western Conference playoff race.

“If we play like [Thursday], we’re not going to be around too long,” Suter said. “We better figure it out fast and come out ready to play.”

The Wild, after a 9-2-2 run before the trade deadline, has taken a turn for the worse in every facet. In 12 games since March 5, the Wild has given up three goals or more nine times. Its goaltending has been unstable. Suter called special teams “terrible,” as the Wild is 14.6 percent on power plays and 64.6 percent on the penalty kill.

And the Wild has averaged 2½ goals per game, although that’s actually a slight improvement for the NHL’s 27th-ranked offense.

So, it’s not a shock the Wild is 3-5-4 in those 12 games.

On the other hand, the Coyotes are 7-2-1 in their past 10 and 9-4-1 this month. They are coming off a five-point, three-game road trip in which they moved within one point of the skidding seventh-place Wild.

“As frustrating and as tough as [the Blues game] was, we’ve got to look at it as if we’ve got to beat Phoenix now,” forward Zach Parise said. “It’s frustrating. There’s no question. I feel like right now when we do make a mistake, it’s in the back of our net. But not only that, we’re not doing ourselves any favors. We’re making it hard on ourselves.

“Our special teams haven’t been good. You need those to win games. The majority of the time you win the special teams game, you win the game. That hasn’t been the case for us.”

Heatley struggling

The pressure is squarely on Yeo’s shoulders. The ninth-place Dallas Stars are charging from the rear, and with Yeo in the final year of his contract, he will likely be the fall guy if the Wild misses the playoffs.

Yeo noted before Thursday’s game at St. Louis that the Wild needed to find consistency in its game, and it started with several underperformers.

He said this while discussing veteran Dany Heatley’s recent struggles. Heatley has four shots in the past 11 games, no goals since Feb. 27, no power-play points since Feb. 6, is minus-7 the past five games and a team-worst minus-18.

Before two recent games Yeo sounded as if it’s getting close to the time he might have to pull Heatley from the lineup. Interestingly, Yeo’s mentor, Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, had no qualms scratching veterans Mike Ribeiro and Derek Morris during consecutive victories in Pittsburgh and New Jersey this week.

Yeo might have to make a similar difficult decision, perhaps as early as Saturday, with Heatley.

Confidence falling

  • related content

  • Game preview: Wild at Phoenix

    Friday March 28, 2014

    wild gameday8 P.M. at Phoenix • FSN, 100.3 FMPreview: A Wild loss means the Coyotes leapfrog into the top wild-card...

  • Emblematic of how it’s been going for the Wild: Vancouver’s Jannik Hansen cleared Zach Parise away from the goal on Wednesday.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 7:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 7:30 PM
Houston
Milwaukee 9:00 PM
Sacramento
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
Golden State
Florida 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Colorado 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Toronto 6:00 PM
Carolina
Washington 6:00 PM
Columbus
Anaheim 6:30 PM
Montreal
St. Louis 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Edmonton 9:30 PM
San Jose
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 6:00 PM
Canisius
Temple 6:00 PM
Delaware
FIU 6:00 PM
Long Island
Lehigh 6:00 PM
Quinnipiac
South Alabama 6:00 PM
Richmond
Seton Hall 6:00 PM
South Florida
Ga Southern 6:00 PM
Stetson
Yale 6:00 PM
Vermont
Cleveland State 6:00 PM
Virginia
Wright State 6:00 PM
Western Carolina
Nicholls 6:30 PM
Louisiana Tech
Morgan State 6:30 PM
Rider
Idaho State 6:30 PM
South Dakota St
Oakland City 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
Eureka 7:00 PM
Bradley
Appalachian St 7:00 PM
Charlotte
Connecticut 7:00 PM
Duke
Southern Miss 7:00 PM
Jackson State
Coastal Carolina 7:00 PM
Ole Miss
Montana State 7:30 PM
South Dakota
LSU 8:00 PM
UAB
Ohio 8:05 PM
Evansville
CS-Dominguez 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Walla Walla 9:00 PM
Idaho
DePaul 9:00 PM
Oregon State
Nevada 9:00 PM
Pacific
Portland State 9:00 PM
San Francisco
CS-Bakersfield 9:05 PM
Utah State
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 4:00 PM
Howard
Southern Miss 4:00 PM
Ole Miss
UMBC 4:00 PM
Rider
Miami-Florida 5:00 PM
UCLA
St Mary-KS 5:00 PM
South Dakota
William & Mary 5:00 PM
Wofford
Troy 5:30 PM
Evansville
Loyola Marymount 6:00 PM
USC
St Francis-PA 6:00 PM
Duquesne
Indiana-Southeast 6:00 PM
IUPUI
Delaware State 6:00 PM
Detroit
Tenn Temple 6:00 PM
Gardner-Webb
West Virginia St 6:00 PM
Radford
Fairfield 6:00 PM
Seton Hall
Dartmouth 6:00 PM
New Hampshire
Ball State 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 6:00 PM
Tennessee St
Trine 6:00 PM
Western Mich
Tenn Tech 6:30 PM
Lipscomb
Samford 7:00 PM
Tulane
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Incarnate Word 7:00 PM
TX-Pan American
Ark-Little Rock 7:00 PM
South Dakota St
CS-Northridge 7:30 PM
Northern Ariz
Santa Clara 8:00 PM
Oregon
(19) Oklahoma St 8:00 PM
Weber State
Washington 8:00 PM
San Diego State
Cal Poly 8:00 PM
New Mexico
(10) Louisville 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
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: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close