Afternoon from the X, where coach Mike Yeo ran a hard, tedious practice today that included systematic tweaks, battle drills and lots of skating.
The Winnipeg Jets come to town tomorrow night. Busloads of fans are on their way, I hear, as the game will be played in front of 19,000+. I'm sure the, "Go Jets Go," chants will be loud.
The Wild has lost five in a row and four in a row in regulation at home for the first time in team history. It's 5-16-5 in its past 26 -- since Dec. 13 at Winnipeg.
So the Jets started this downfall. It'd be only fair of them to allow the Wild to begin the rebound tomorrow, eh?
"We’ve been very afraid of what we’re losing or what’s at stake for us," Yeo said. "Maybe if anything, we’ve got nothing to lose right now. Outside of our locker room, there’s not a person in the world that probably thinks we’re going to make the playoffs, so let’s use that. So lets go into these games and play like we have nothing to lose. Play without the fear, and that can be pretty dangerous."
Cal Clutterbuck is questionable with a charleyhorse, and is apparently feeling a little better today, Yeo said. But he didn't practice again, so I can't see him playing. The Wild is shuffling the deck yet again, recalling Jeff Taffe and Cody Almond. Kris Foucault was reassigned after his NHL debut and Carson McMillan is on IR with a lower body injury.
Yeo wants these guys to make a difference, not just come in and just to fill in.
And onto the Marek Zidlicky saga: He wants out. He sounds like something can happen today, saying, "We'll see next couple hours. I'm here right now."
GM Chuck Fletcher didn't sound like anything was imminent and laughed when I said Zidlicky told me, "We'll see next couple hours." I asked Zidlicky if he wants out. "Give me a couple days. That's tough to say right now."
He did confirm what Fletcher told me
tomorrow this morning and that he has not been asked to waive his no-trade clause for any specific deal. I asked him if he wants to go to New Jersey. He said, "We'll see. I'm still here."
I asked Yeo if he feels he can continue to have Zidlicky around the team when it's becoming increasingly apparent he doesn't want to be here:
"We want people that want to go to war for each other, that’s for sure," Yeo said. "… It’s us against them, and by them, I mean everybody. It’s our group. We have to believe in ourselves, and we have to play for each other, we have to stick together and we have to want to fight through this together. So we need everybody all in for that."
Asked if Zidlicky is all in for that, Yeo paused and said, "Well, I haven’t had a chance to talk to him today. Obviously, I read your blog (with a laugh), but we’ll talk to him. His play the last three games hasn’t shown me he’s not all in, but we have to have a face to face chat."
I don't think that chat has happened yet.
On his good play lately: "Three games in a row that I’m real happy with. Whether it’s confidence or what it is, he just seems very assertive, like he’s trying to make plays. He’s been shooting the puck a lot more, so he’s definitely been playing very well."
The "what it is" part of Yeo's quotes, reading between the lines, I think Yeo knows he's trying to showcase himself. The man wants out.