Wild ride continues in Minnesota 06 Jan 12

NHL Team Report – Minnesota Wild – INSIDE SHOTS

A month ago, the Wild looked like playoff shoo-ins. Now, it’s 1-7-3 in its past 11 after Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to Vancouver and clinging to a playoff spot by three points over ninth-place Colorado.

“We’ve got to dig deep and someway, somehow find [our game],” center Kyle Brodziak said. “There’s no other way to do it than just every guy, to a man, finding a way to get to the top of his game.”

The Wild began a stretch of 10 of 13 games on the road Wednesday night, with the next coming Saturday in Calgary. It’s scored four goals in a 0-5-1 road slide, pretty amazing for a team that was once the best road team in the NHL.

Coach Mike Yeo is desperately trying to keep the Wild’s spirit high, and it’ll spend the next two days practicing and bonding in Banff, Alberta.

“Probably the timing of it couldn’t be better of us right now,” Yeo said. “We need to get the group together. We’re not in a bad spot. … The way things have gone lately makes you think about what you’ve lost, but there’s been a lot of good things through the first half of the season.

“Just not so much lately, and that’s obvious the focus right now. But I’m very confident that when we can get back to playing our game that the wins will keep flowing for us.”

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NHL Team Report – Minnesota Wild – NOTES, QUOTES

–All the chatter in the Wild locker room Wednesday was on Thursday’s bronze-medal game at the world junior championships — Canada vs. Finland.

Some of the Wild’s Canadians were making a wager with the Wild’s lone Finn, captain Mikko Koivu.

“Well, potentially. He’s a little cheap,” said defenseman Nick Schultz, a native of Strasbourg, Saskatchewan.

“He’s not very brave making bets,” added Welland, Ontario’s Cal Clutterbuck. “He’s just a little bit chicken. But he’s a proud Finn, man, there’s no question about that.”

“Not surprised those two would go to the media,” Koivu said, grinning.

–With little practice time in December, the last two days have been teaching practices for the Wild.

“It wasn’t just the work and the sweat,” coach Mike Yeo said. “We got a lot accomplished as far as the tactical parts that we needed to work on … a lot of the structure of our game.”

Part of this is getting a quality forecheck going again so it can get back to drawing power plays. They have been few and far between lately.

“It’s using our speed and driving to areas and forcing them to defend,” Yeo said. “At times right now, we’re sort of going and seeing a guy in front of us and just accepting it. We have to fight past that guy.”

–The Wild’s deep in goaltending, but the past few days have been ridiculous.

The Houston Aeros’ Matt Hackett was named to the AHL All-Star Game on Wednesday — one day after Darcy Kuemper was named AHL Rookie of the Month and Johan Gustafsson backstopped Sweden into Thursday’s world junior championship game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “To hang onto the puck.” — C Matt Cullen on his thinking during a penalty-shot goal Saturday against Phoenix. Two games before, he lost the puck in a shootout attempt at Nashville.

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NHL Team Report – Minnesota Wild – ROSTER REPORT

PLAYER NOTES:

–LW Guillaume Latendresse has been shut down again because of a concussion. He is experiencing symptoms again and has missed 24 of the past 26 games.

“It’s very frustrating for me and I think the organization, too,” Latendresse told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I’m here to play hockey. I’m away from my family all year long and I’m not even playing hockey, so it’s just, it’s just, yeah, … it’s just really hard.

“One day I feel good, one day I feel average, one day I feel horrible. Every day is so different, I don’t know how I’m going to feel tomorrow.”

–LW Devin Setoguchi returned after missing 12 games with a knee injury Wednesday against Vancouver.

It should be a big offensive boost for a team struggling.

“You never want to miss games, especially if your teammates are losing,” Setoguchi said. “So you want to be back as quick as possible. But at same time you don’t want to come back too early and do something where you jeopardize it again.”

–RW Casey Wellman returned after missing nine games with a wrist injury. He played on the fourth line — two lines down from the time he was injured.

–C Matt Cullen scored his second goal in 22 games with a penalty-shot goal Saturday against Phoenix.

He said it was a big relief, “especially when you’re a guy that’s supposed to provide some of the offense, and that’s been considerably lacking.”

MEDICAL WATCH:

–RW Jarod Palmer (upper body) was placed on injured reserve and missed his second game Wednesday at Vancouver.

–D Clayton Stoner (groin) missed his fifth game Wednesday and is on injured reserve.

–LW Guillaume Latendresse is completely shut down after suffering another concussion Dec. 14 against Chicago one game after returning from a 15-game absence with a concussion.

GOALTENDERS:

–Niklas Backstrom

–Josh Harding

DEFENSE PAIRINGS:

–Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon

–Nick Schultz, Marek Zidlicky

–Justin Falk, Nate Prosser

FIRST LINE:

–LW Devin Setoguchi, C Mikko Koivu, RW Dany Heatley

SECOND LINE:

–LW Cal Clutterbuck, C Matt Cullen, RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard

THIRD LINE:

–LW Darroll Powe, C Kyle Brodziak, RW Nick Johnson

FOURTH LINE:

–LW, Colton Gillies, C Warren Peters, RW Casey Wellman