Unhappy with the Wild’s play, interim coach John Torchetti shook up the lineup with two games left in the season Tuesday night.
Four players — defensemen Matt Dumba and Mike Reilly, and wingers Jordan Schroeder and Justin Fontaine — who skated in Sunday’s third consecutive loss at Winnipeg didn’t play against San Jose, while two players — forward Zac Dalpe and defenseman Christian Folin — were inserted straight out of the minors.
“Competition is great, and that’s the bottom line,” Torchetti said. “You’ve got to compete for your ice, you’ve got to be responsible being on the ice, and that’s what we want moving forward.”
Asked how big of an indictment it was that he had to shake things up so noticeably before such a big game, Torchetti said, “Every day we work for this logo.”
Dalpe, 26, made his Wild debut despite playing only eight games for Iowa of the AHL this season because of hip and knee injuries. The hope was he would bring speed, size and a shooting mentality to a line with snakebit Jason Zucker and Charlie Coyle.
Dumba, who struggled dramatically against the Jets and has played erratically for a few weeks, missed his first game of the season. It was a blow to the 21-year-old.
“I’m such a competitor,” Dumba said. “I want to play. But at the same time, I’m going to be pulling for my teammates and be a good teammate and support them. They’re my friends, my brothers. We go through all this together. There’s been other guys in my situation, and they’ve kept their heads up high and gone about their business.”
Torchetti said he believes Dumba and Reilly, who was assigned to Iowa to make room on the roster, are trying to do too much and explained their removal with, “We’re just looking to keep the game a little bit … simpler.”
Torchetti played Nate Prosser and Folin as a pair in large part because of San Jose’s size up front, he said.
Folin, 25, has collected three assists in 24 NHL games this season and four goals and 13 points in 28 contests with Iowa.
He was excited to be back after playing heavy minutes in Iowa “just working on my overall game. It’s fun to play on the power play, it’s been awhile. … Looked around, I didn’t see [traded Niklas Backstrom] out there. I kind of miss him a little bit. He was a good friend of mine.”
Dalpe, a former Carolina second-round draft pick who has played 117 games for the Hurricanes, Buffalo and Vancouver, had a solid training camp for the Wild. But he tore a labrum in one of his hips in his first Iowa game.
“It’s been a long year just battling injuries. I guess no excuse to not be fresh now,” Dalpe said. “I like to play at a fast pace. I really like to play with the puck and really like to play with speed, and I’m a shooter.”
• Defenseman Jared Spurgeon returned after missing two games because of a lower-body injury. Torchetti hoped Spurgeon would bring calmness and poise back to a blue line that had a lot of trouble exiting its zone during his absence. “We definitely miss him,” Torchetti said.
• Former Wild coach Mike Yeo will be one of Bill Peters’ assistants on Team Canada for the world championships from May 6-22 in Russia.