EDMONTON, ALBERTA – Mike Yeo wants more production from the Wild’s second power-play unit. Sure, it only seems to get the leftover seconds of most power plays because the Wild coach’s first option is typically the first unit, but if that’s the case, Yeo still wants members of Unit 2 to get it done.
“If you have a minute, make sure you get the most of it,” Yeo said before Tuesday’s game against the Oilers. “With that said, if you’ve got 30 seconds, that’s 30 seconds that somebody else on the team would like to have, so make sure you take advantage of it.”
Entering Tuesday’s game, the Wild power play was clicking at 20.9 percent the previous 16 games (13-for-61). However, if you discount Erik Haula’s power-play goal Jan. 15 in Buffalo when Yeo was playing everybody late in a blowout, the second unit hasn’t scored since Dec. 27 (Thomas Vanek, who’s currently on the first unit). Since, the power-play goals had only come from Zach Parise, Vanek, Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville.
The last member of the current second unit to score was Charlie Coyle on Dec. 23. That was his only power-play goal this season, and actually, he was on the first unit that game. The rest of the No. 2 power-play? Jason Zucker, Mikael Granlund and Jonas Brodin have no power-play goals this season, Jared Spurgeon has none since Nov. 13 and Nino Niederreiter none since Dec. 13.
“We’ve got to take what we can get, that’s all,” Coyle said of the limited seconds during power plays. “It’s definitely got to be the perfect situation. Obviously you want that first unit out there as much as possible to get the job done. But if they can’t do it, it doesn’t matter how much time we have, we’ve got to work with what we’ve got. You can’t be negative about it. Just do what you can with what you’ve got.”
Yeo was hoping Granlund’s return Tuesday after missing 13 games following wrist surgery will help. The second unit hasn’t produced because it has had issues getting in the zone and coughing up pucks. Yeo believes Granlund’s ability to carry the puck up the ice with speed and set up plays along the half wall could be the remedy.
Yeo still barely uses Marco Scandella, who leads Wild defensemen with nine goals, on the power play. He averages 53 seconds a game.
“There will be times where Marco is out there as well, but … if we were setting up on the other side, then it would probably be Marco,” Yeo said. “But as far as that strongside, it’s a little bit easier for [Brodin] to walk the line and get to the middle of the ice. Marco is a left shot as well, but he’s a little bit more of an offside shooting guy.”
Face time for Suter
After Ryan Suter scored in Sunday’s All-Star Game, the Wild defenseman delayed his reaction before kiddingly sticking his arms straight into the air as a celebration. It was an inside joke between he and defensive partner Shea Weber. Suter said the two used to do that to each other every time they scored in practice as longtime teammates in Nashville.
“I thought I waited long enough where I’d be off camera,” Suter said, laughing.
Suter bonded with Oilers youngster Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in Columbus. They shot a Visa commercial together that’s expected to be out in two weeks.
“I can’t spoil it, but I’ll just say we were hitting some targets and having some fun with it,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “We were joking that we can’t be too friendly once we see each other on the ice [Tuesday].”
• Center Erik Haula and defenseman Stu Bickel were scratched for the Wild. The Oilers were without No. 1 center Taylor Hall, who was injured while blocking a shot during Monday’s practice.