By Kent Youngblood, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) –
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Wild coach Mike Yeo wants his team to dwell on what happened Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center.
OK, so maybe that’s not the whole story. Wednesday, the day after the Wild blew a 4-1 third-period lead in a 5-4 loss to Nashville, Yeo held a surprisingly upbeat, high-paced practice. After it was over, he said he wanted his team to remember what it did in the first 50 minutes of that game and forget the final 10.
“If we want to dwell on anything, it should be the fact that we should have won the game,” Yeo said. “For the majority of the game we were playing our game, doing the things we were supposed to do. And we gave ourselves a chance to win three games in a row.”
Of course, that didn’t happen, thanks to some stunning breakdowns in the final moments. Indeed, even defenseman Nick Schultz, who has played 731 career games, said he couldn’t remember a loss like Wednesday’s.
But, clinging to the eighth spot in the Western Conference — only one point ahead of Colorado — the Wild headed to Denver for Thursday’s game with the Avalanche determined to look ahead. Schultz, for example, wondered aloud what good it did to fixate on the loss.
“All you do is dig yourself into a hole,” he said. “We have to look at our position (in the standings), who we’re playing in the next couple games. That should be enough to get us going.”
After playing Colorado, the Wild goes to Dallas to play the Stars, who were 10th in the West heading into play Wednesday.
Yeo admitted he didn’t get much sleep Tuesday night, replaying the final minutes of the game over and over. “As soon as my alarm went off (Wednesday morning) it was time to come back to the rink. For me, it’s behind us. It stinks, for sure, but there are too many positives to look at. We’re in too good of a situation to sit here and dwell about the negative that happed last night.”
To that end Yeo sounded like a coach reluctant to tinker with his lineup.
“Let’s look at the big picture here,” he said. “We have to get consistency in our game, and sometimes it’s easier when you have consistency in your lineup.”
That said, Yeo said he spoke with Clayton Stoner and would talk to Greg Zanon about the struggles the defensive pairing had down the stretch of the Nashville game.
Dany Heatley, who has four goals and seven points in his last three games, likes the chemistry he has formed with linemates Kyle Brodziak and Nick Johnson.
“Those are two easy guys to play with,” Heatley said. “We play a simple game, try to get the puck in and work it low.”
Yeo said the way Heatley is scoring is a good sign. “He’s managing the puck really well, he’s strong on the puck,” Yeo said. “You look at the chances he’s getting, the goals he’s scoring, those are Dany Heatley goals, from the top of the circles down.”
. Mikko Koivu’s health continues to improve, and the team captain traveled with the Wild. He won’t play in Colorado. When asked if Dallas on Saturday was a possibility, Yeo said, “I don’t really want to talk about that.”
. The day after returning to practice with the team, left winger Guillaume Latendresse (concussion) didn’t take the ice Wednesday and did not make the trip.
. Yeo said he talked with defenseman Marek Zidlicky, who has been vocal about his unhappiness with not playing. Yeo would not comment on the meeting other than to say it went well.