Wild seek fix for offensive woes
MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. — The Minnesota Wild have not been playing up to the preseason hype or their potential.
In this lockout-shortened season, the time for a turnaround is tight.
Winless in four road games this season, the Wild (4-4-1) returned home. They'll host Vancouver on Thursday. Seven of their next nine games are against Northwest Division teams, and the 48-game season is about 20 percent gone.
So at practice Wednesday at the St. Thomas Ice Arena, coach Mike Yeo shuffled his forward groups again.
Dany Heatley was taken off the first line to skate with center Matt Cullen and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Rookie Charlie Coyle replaced Heatley, joining center Mikko Koivu and star Zach Parise.
“I wouldn't say it was unexpected,” said Heatley, who has no points in his past four games after tallying four goals and two assists in the first five games. “I'm playing with two real creative guys, so hopefully we can get something going.”
Devin Setoguchi and Mikael Granlund rotated spots on the third line with center Kyle Brodziak and Cal Clutterbuck. New acquisition Mike Rupp was on the fourth line with Torrey Mitchell and Zenon Konopka.
Rupp, who came in a trade with the New York Rangers, will make his Wild debut against the Canucks.
“I'm just a complementary guy. There are a lot of good things going here,” Rupp said. “This team is headed in the right direction. I'm excited to be a part of it and contribute in any way. Obviously, my game is to play physical. I'm going to try to come in here and help this team win hockey games any way I can.”
Yeo joked that the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Rupp already met one of his expectations: that he's big.
“For as big as he is, he moves well. He's got speed to get it in there on the forecheck and speed to get there and hit and play a physical game, but he's also got some hands,” Yeo said. “He's also got the ability to get shots off and play in the offensive zone, so that's what we're looking for.”
By calling up Coyle, trading Darroll Powe for Rupp and demoting Setoguchi and Granlund from the second line, the Wild have shown they're not willing to simply wait for one of the deepest group of forwards the franchise has had to produce.
From owner Craig Leipold to general manager Chuck Fletcher to Yeo and his staff, there's a demand of success that's hanging heavier over this team.
“Normally we've played nine games and you have more time to sort things out, but you don't have as much time,” Yeo said. “So certainly it magnifies things.”
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.