As of my long phone conversation with General Manager Chuck Fletcher this afternoon as he drove to Des Moines to check out the Iowa Wild – the suddenly hot Iowa Wild, he said no trade was imminent.
We’ll see tonight’s 3-0 loss to the Nashville Predators and back-to-back shutouts does anything to amp up the urgency level.
“You can’t overreact and force trades,” Fletcher said. “You do that, and that’s when you can turn a small slump into a bigger problem. If something’s there that makes you better, it doesn’t matter if you’re playing well or struggling, you’re going to make a move. When you start to force trades, that’s dangerous and when you make poor decisions.
“Time will tell. We’re not going to make a trade for the sake of making a trade. But if we can make a trade that helps our team, we’ll trade anybody, whether they’re young or old.”
Barring some news Sunday, I’ll write an article off my phone call with Fletcher.
The Wild has lost four in a row, scored no goals in 120 minutes of hockey in 48 hours and has three goals in the past four games. It has 29 goals in the past 15 games, 25 if you exclude empty-netters,
Tonight, a Nashville team that had lost five straight and hadn’t won in regulation since Dec. 28 took a second win over the Wild a month apart at home.
Carter Hutton – not Pekka Rinne – made 29 saves, 25 in the first two periods. The Wild gave up a goal 1:24 in and was chasing a hockey game for the eighth time in 10 games and fourth in a row.
When you’re struggling to score as badly as the Wild right now, that felt like a gigantic mountain to climb. When Roman Josi made it 2-0 on a power-play goal in the third, it felt like 10-zip.
Tough night for defense partners Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon. They were on for all three goals.
Mikael Granlund, who has no non-empty-net goals in the past 26 games, had a tough night. Lost board battle that helped lead to the first goal, a bunch of glaring turnovers. He got better late in the game, but his line with Jason Pominville and Zach Parise just couldn’t break through despite some awesome chances.
Thomas Vanek no shots in the past two games and the poster child right now of just not shooting and trying that extra play to set up the perfect chances. Yeo said it’s emblematic of a team that is pressing.
Suter on the lack of scoring: “We’ve got to work harder and get more to the net and simplify. It’ll come. We have guys that have scored a lot of goals in there. It’ll start to come.
“You’re always worried when you’re not scoring. But we’re still in a really good place. We control our destiny. We control basically everything. If we can get some goals early, I think it’ll settle us down and get back to how we were.”
Asked how frustrating it is to always have these swoons, he said, “Something’s got to change. I don’t know what it is. Something’s got to change though so we don’t have to go through this every year.”
He later clarified that he meant internally in that locker room that the players need to fix this. He said this team has proven to be a good one in the past.
Things are bland right now and you just have to wonder when Fletcher feels compelled to rattle some cages. He did tell me today though that he believes this team can battle through this.
Coach Mike Yeo liked the Wild’s start but not the falling behind early yet again.
“We’re chasing all game every game right now,” he said. “It’s a different kind of frustation tonight. You’re generating the chances. A little bit deflating after that second period the chances we generated and nothing goes in for us. What’s really important right now is we really examine and look at the way we were generating those opportunities and find a way to create more of that.”
“We can’t win if we don’t score goals,” Yeo said, but adding that there was a better feel in the first two periods, that he didn’t like the delay of game call on Matt Dumba that led to the Josi goal (the refs ruled he intentionally knocked the net off the moorings after a Craig Smith breakaway) and that “the first two periods, our game looked a lot more the way it should. We have to make sure we use this stretch as bad as it is to dig in and get a little stronger in our game and if we do the results will follow.”
The Wild overhauled its power play. The Wild went with 7 D tonight and scratched Erik Haula and used rookie Mike Reilly on the top unit and Mikko Koivu and Vanek on the second.
No goals on three tries, including no shots on a must-score one late in the third.
The Wild’s power play on the road is now 6 for 63. Overall, the Wild is 1 for 29 the past 15 games and 0 for 21 the past 10 games. The Wild has 22 power-play goals all season. I think I put this on the blog earlier today, but if not, NHL leading scorer Patrick Kane has points on 24 of the Blackhawks’ 32 power-play goals.
Yeo said the coaches were trying to spark something. Yeo did like Reilly’s game.
I led my gamer with this, but Andy Ness, the Wild’s part-time skills instructor, will be at Sunday’s practice for an all-skills practice.
“It’s not a systems or an x’s and o’s day,” Yeo said. “It’s just a matter of feeling the puck and shooting some pucks in the net. It’ll be a good mental break for us.”
The Wild will take Monday off and practice in Anaheim on Tuesday for the first of back-to-back games against the Ducks and Kings, then a matinee Saturday in San Jose.
“We’ve got to get to work. That’s the only way out of this,” Yeo said.