Afternoon from Xcel Energy Center, where the Wild held a very well-attended optional practice this morning in advance of Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils. The Wild hasn’t lost two in a row since Jan. 19-20 and two in a row in regulation since Jan. 11-13 (actually end of a four-game losing streak).
I was out of town yesterday, but for some reason when I walked into the locker room today, I had a bunch of players, a few trainers and coaches ask me if I had a lawyer on retainer.
I’ll be on KFAN today at 1:35 p.m., Tuesday at 10:15 p.m. and I’m doing another Podcast with columnist Jim Souhan at the Local in Minneapolis at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Please stop on by or you can listen at souhanunfiltered.com.
Devan Dubnyk was given the day off today, and Charlie Coyle and Ryan Suter were the only two healthy players (we think) that didn’t practice. My guess is Coyle was getting treatment on some sort of something because it’s odd he’d be the only skater besides the Wild’s leading minute muncher to exercise his option.
“Today was a full optional,” coach Mike Yeo said. “A lot of guys chose to go on. We were actually a little bit surprised at the number of guys that went on. That’s a good sign.”
Yeo said Coyle, Suter and Dubnyk are fine for Tuesday.
Yeo said he noticed fatigue in the Wild’s game last night – a 3-2 loss that was 3-0 until the 54-minute mark.
“We’ve played an awful lot of games during this stretch,” Yeo said. “I could see on the ice a little fatigue in our game yesterday and even just emotionally you could feel on the bench we didn’t have the same chatter, the same kind of emotion through the course of the game.”
So Yeo said the assistants put the team through a light skate today and hopefully that’ll put more in the tank for Tuesday.
Defenseman Marco Scandella, whom I believe has some kind of oblique problem, did not practice today and looks like he is doubtful for the games this week.
Yeo said he wouldn’t rule him out for Friday’s game against Anaheim, but, “I know that he has to feel better than he does right now. He hasn’t been shooting pucks real hard, so once we get him doing that, then we know that he’ll be able to battle harder. We have to make sure right now we’re not putting guys back too early.”
Yeo felt Chris Stewart played one of his best games if not the best of the four he has played in last night’s game against the Avs. He scored a goal and was part of other scoring chances as well.
Mikko Koivu has gone seven games without a point. Yeo admitted today he is trying to find a left-winger with the chemistry to play with Koivu and Stewart. Thomas Vanek didn’t work in his brief try there, Sean Bergenheim didn’t produce. Yeo indicated he will try Nino Niederreiter there again on Tuesday.
Bergenheim has no points and is minus-3 in six games since being acquired. I thought he had a quality game in Nashville for his debut, and I thought last game was his worst.
In Raleigh, he didn’t finish one check and then triggered an odd-man rush. Against Colorado, he twice didn’t get the puck out by not being strong enough on the boards and it resulted in Cody McLeod giving Colorado a 1-0 lead in an opening period the Wild controlled.
“Wall play is a huge part,” Yeo said. “We need everybody to be strong on the wall. Quite often those turnovers in your defensive zone, they’re going to result in if not a scoring chance then at least extended time in your zone. His first couple games here, that was one of the real strengths of his game and that was one thing we really liked. Right now, just kind of looking at his game, I can tell that he’s putting pressure on himself to try to make plays and create something offensively. We’ve got to settle him down.”
Bergenheim said, “Point-wise it’s been tough for me. They haven’t come.” He pointed out he didn’t play in the two weeks in Florida leading up to the trade to the Wild and he’s working “as hard as I can to get back to game shape and feeling comfortable out there.” He said he feels he’s learning the system, but some stuff needs to be better with timing and the plays he’s trying to make. “I’m aware of that and I’m working on it,” Bergenheim said.
We’ll see how much rope Yeo gives Bergenheim with Jordan Schroeder waiting in the wings.
I’m writing about Matt Dumba for Tuesday’s practice. Last time the Wild faced the Devils was Nov. 11. Dumba was scratched after a mistake in Montreal turned that entire game around. So much has changed with Dumba’s game since, and that’s the launching point for the feature.
Dumba’s blonde-haired roommate, Christian Folin, arrived at practice today with a dark black, prickly mustache to compete with Dumba’s black goatee.
“I was kind of bored yesterday when I found out I wasn’t playing,” Folin said. “I wanted to give the guys a good laugh and I think it succeeded. … They’re kind of scared though. They don’t want me around their kids.”
He dyed it with Just For Men, “Dark Black.” Folin says his girlfriend is not a fan of the stache.
Joked Dumba, who sports a sweet goatee, "I’ll give him props. That takes commitment to do that, courage. He has a lot going on there. It’s not the goat, but he put in great effort, so I respect that."