Update: Same lines and D pairs at the morning skate, but I think Marco Scandella got banged up in Vancouver and he left the skate early. That means Nate Prosser may play; Scandella is a game-time decision. Devan Dubnyk in net vs. Jonas Hiller.
Morning from Calgary. I wanted to post Hockey 101 blog last night because I really think you'll find it interesting, but if you saw what I wrote in today's paper, you'd understand I was tapped out. I couldn't write anymore.
If you didn't see today's John Torchetti profile, give it a read here, please.
Lots of info, like how he gave up beer for Lent and as I joked on Twitter, how he hopes the Wild gave up losing for Lent (I stole that line from outstanding Sports Illustrated writer Alex Prewitt, who's currently sitting across the table from me).
I also talked to the assistant coaches about the awkwardness of how they went from consoling Mike Yeo to being Torchetti's assistant moments later. That article can be read here.
The Wild continues its three-game trip after beating Vancouver, 5-2, on Monday in John Torchetti’s coaching debut. It was the Wild’s fourth win in 20 games in 2016 and snapped an eight-game losing streak. The Flames are 4-3 since the All-Star break.The Wild is 9-2-1 in its last 12 games against Calgary, in¬cluding a six-game point streak (5-0-1). The Wild is 10-4-1 in its last 15 games at the Saddledome after starting 3-18-4.
Hockey 101, I know, but I found this really fascinating and you may, too.
So the other night vs. Vancouver, Mikko Koivu logged 20 minutes, 5 seconds and Charlie Coyle, 19:51. Zach Parise logged 15:54, Mikael Granlund 15:55.
The rest of the forwards? Jason Zucker 14:32, Justin Fontaine 13:30, Nino Niederreiter 13:04, Jarret Stoll 12:55, Ryan Carter 12:49, Thomas Vanek 12:45, Jason Pominville 12:39, Erik Haula 12:28.
Part of it was because the Wild was winning, part of it was because the Wild had four power plays, part of it was that the Canucks drew four power plays, including three in the second period.
Part of it was the timing of TV timeouts, part of it is because John Torchetti is committed to being a four-line team.
But most of all, it’s matchups.
I asked Torchetti how the lines know who’s up and how he pays attention to the game when he may be in an ear of a player for 20, 30 seconds not watching.
He said, “We already got who’s up. We tried a little matchup, a little forward, D matchup. So I give two calls, and they’ve got to get used to the calls. So if we have a certain matchup, then I have a second line that goes if that matchup’s not there and the other line knows not to go out there and the other line jumps. And so they’ve got to be ready and pay attention to the game all the time.”
So, in other words, Torchetti against Vancouver wanted the Parise-Koivu-Coyle line out against the Sedins every shift with a backup plan of the Carter-Stoll-Fontaine line. If the Sedins were on the ice, the Koivu line knew they were up. If the Koivu line just got off, the Stoll line knows it was their turn.
So, some players get lost in the shuffle on the road depending on Vancouver’s rhythm of line changes.
“Like if they’re going, 1-2-3-1, 1-2-3-4-1 or 1-2-1, that determines our guys, too,” Torchetti said.
Torchetti likes top guys against top guys and then he has a secondary plan if he doesn’t like the matchup. He determines that before the game and puts it on the board so all players know.
“I want to be a four-line team,” he said. “There’s going to be nights some of these guys are pushed to 20 because it’s just the way the game is. [Monday] night, the second-period flow of the game was ruined by three penalties, so that hurt Zach. If that happens again, maybe I have to get him 20 seconds on the kill just to make sure he’s revved up. You want to keep them going, not sitting much.”
So it’s not like guys like Vanek and Pominville were benched the other night.
“No, they got lost and I tell them, ‘Hey, I owe you,’” Torechetti said. “That’s the game. I tell players all the time, ‘Hey, I might have missed you or I felt another line was a good matchup or something.’ I go with my gut. There’s no benching involved in stuff like that. They just missed a rep or we’re matching the Sedins or if we had a power play and then a TV time out, then the Sedins coming again or if we have two kills in a row, stuff like that.”
He said he loves having the Stoll line as a backup to stop top lines: “I’m very comfortable with that.”
He said as the players get used to him, he said he actually may call three lines at once.
“It’s something I learned from Joel [Quenneville] in Chicago,” Torchetti said. “Joel’s got three calls sometimes. It makes the bench a lot of fun. Players are like, ‘What did he just say?’”
I asked him if he’s worried about bench confusion or too many men (it always seems like the Hawks get a lot of too many men penalties).
I said, “So it’s totally up to the players knowing which line should go based on the matchup?”
“Exactly. Well, That’s your job. I know my job. I gave you your matchup,” Torchetti said. “And then if I don’t like the matchup, I’ll change it. On the road it’s tougher. At home, it’s easy. I mean, at home I shouldn’t have to even say a word. And I like this because with the players, it builds in that focus that they have to be paying attention to the game, too.”