Mike Yeo wanted to dress a lineup Sunday night that would closely resemble the regular season. The Wild coach can only hope Sunday’s performance will be replicated in the regular season, too.
This one was over early.
Of course, it’s safe to expect the next time the Winnipeg Jets come to town, they won’t leave Dustin Byfuglien, Blake Wheeler, Andrew Ladd and others behind and will carry more than two NHL defensemen.
The Jets brought their JV squad, and the Wild took advantage by putting forth one heck of a clinic during an 8-1 preseason thumping.
“It’s hard to find too many things to complain about,” Yeo said.
Matt Dumba, who scored the overtime winner at Winnipeg on Tuesday, scored two goals, and Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Jonas Brodin tallied one each to provide Devan Dubnyk plenty of support during an easy-as-pie 18-save home debut.
Just like the other two Wild preseason victories, the Wild’s 20-somethings led the way, with Dumba registering four points and Niederreiter three. Dumba, who had five shots, was plus-6. Niederreiter, who had five shots, and Coyle were each plus-5. Yeo is thrilled with each of their camps.
In another bright spot, defenseman Mike Reilly looked the most at ease he has this preseason. Yeo called it his best game, and even though the former Gophers defenseman didn’t score, he was solid defensively and strutted his stuff all over the offensive zone.
“I definitely think every game’s gotten better, I’m more comfortable and I feel like one of the guys in this dressing room,” Reilly said.
With one exhibition game left Thursday against Buffalo, 14 of the Wild’s 16 preseason goals have come from players 25 and under (Dumba 3, Niederreiter 2, Granlund 2, Brodin, 2, Coyle, Erik Haula, Christian Folin, Jason Zucker, Jared Spurgeon).
The Wild’s vets weren’t too shabby, though. Parise had three points and Koivu had two points, was plus-3, had three shots and won 13 of 18 faceoffs.
“In my time here, this is as good a camp that I’ve seen him have,” Yeo said of Wild captain Koivu, whom he called “outstanding.”
Jets backup Michael Hutchinson was the goalie who got the unenviable chore of playing behind a bunch of minor league-bound teammates Sunday. The Wild struck four times in the first period with 10 different players getting points, then another three times in the second.
Coyle, who had three assists and won 12 of 16 faceoffs Thursday in Columbus, went from center to right wing because Zucker is dealing with a minor injury.
Dumba, who has had an up-and-down camp, credited his quality game to getting into a normal game-day routine (the Wild flies to road preseason games on the day of games) and being paired with his closest friend, Brodin.
The Wild rout continued in the second and third periods, and things got chippy late as Jets players challenged Koivu, Parise and Thomas Vanek.
Jets coach Paul Maurice wasn’t happy Yeo skated his best players late in the blowout. Yeo was using such personnel as Brett Bulmer, Tyler Graovac, Erik Haula and Ryan Carter on some power plays until he felt Anthony Peluso was running around.
“It was just an honor to be in the same building with them tonight,” Maurice said, sarcastically.