With just one win and 12 goals in its last six games, Minnesota is changing things up at forward.
That much we know.
What we don’t know is how the new-look Wild will, uh, look. That’s because head coach Mike Yeo refused to divulge details prior to tonight’s game on Long Island, telling reporters they’ll have to wait until warmups to see the changes.
First, some context. The Wild have been slumping lately but are still in reasonably good shape — three of their five losses came in a shootout, meaning they’ve actually collected five points during the “slump.” It’s a big reason why they’re on 80 points and holding the first of two wild card spots in the Western Conference, five clear of ninth-place Dallas.
That said, all is not well in Minnesota.
Outside of the stellar Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville line, scoring has been virtually non-existent. Matt Moulson, the club’s big deadline day acquisition, has struggled to find his niche in the lineup and has just one goal through six games.
Captain Mikko Koivu is pointless in his last four games. Nino Niederreiter has two points in his last eight. Charlie Coyle has one goal since the Olympic break. And so on. And so forth.
Following Monday’s 4-1 loss to Boston — Minnesota’s second straight game scoring just one goal — Yeo acknowledged changes were necessary up front to help generate some offense.
“Certainly, we’re going to look at our lines,” Yeo said, per the Pioneer Press. “I’m not sure we have exactly the right mix.
“We have to figure that out, though, because it doesn’t quite have the right feel right now.”
By Marian Gaborik‘s often-fragile standards, he’s been relatively sturdy as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.
Still, few should be shocked when they hear of a lower-body injury for the veteran winger. In this case, it’s serious enough to land him on injured reserve, as the team announced on Saturday.
Gaborik had a bumpy time with zero points from Jan. 9-23, but he’s been more productive lately, scoring five points in his past seven contests.
And, again, it was an unusually healthy run for Gaborik:
LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen indicates that Gaborik was placed on IR in part so that the Kings could make room for Peter Budaj.
Update: The Minnesota Wild made it official. Still no word yet on a replacement.
It looks like the Minnesota Wild have no love left for Mike Yeo on Valentine’s Day weekend.
Apparently an eighth consecutive loss (falling to the Boston Bruins) was the final straw, as Yeo has been fired, according to Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press and Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Yeo confirmed as much via text (pauses for comment about this being a strange time for us all) to Russo:
The Wild haven’t made an official announcement yet. The writing certainly seemed to be on the wall with Graff reporting that there were especially long meetings between Minnesota management and Yeo after today’s loss to Boston.
Yeo mentioned that he wouldn’t quit following the game.
One big question remains: is GM Chuck Fletcher safe to work the trade deadline or will there be sweeping changes for the struggling Wild?
Also: who coaches them going forward? Will an assistant be bumped up to interim head coach or will the franchise go to someone looking for a gig? Perhaps this option …
Who knows, really. PHT will keep you up to date either way.
/paging Jacques Lemaire …
The Carolina Hurricanes probably can save a few ice buckets tonight, as the New York Islanders will be without winger Cal Clutterbuck.
The Isles announced that Clutterbuck won’t play on Saturday because of an illness. Their next game is against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, and then they don’t suit up again until Thursday, so Clutterbuck’s sickness may not be too much of a nuisance.
According to Yahoo’s numbers, the amusingly named forward has delivered 55 hits in 14 career games against the Canes (not to mention a solid five points).
Matt Martin‘s among the most frequent hitters in the league, too, so it’s not like the Hurricanes will leave tonight’s game totally unscathed.
Here are the Islanders’ tweaked forward lines:
If the Minnesota Wild want to make a coaching change, it sounds like Mike Yeo won’t make it easy for them by stepping down.
“I’m not freaking quitting here,” Yeo said to reporters including the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.
It also sounds like Yeo realizes that Minnesota’s morbid losing streak – now at a worrisome eight games – may very well cost him his job.
The scene sounded pretty somber after today’s loss to the Boston Bruins, and not in your usual way.
Firing Yeo would be a big step for the Wild, even more than usual, as he began his coaching stint in 2011. GM Chuck Fletcher was hired in 2009, so the two have been attached at the hip since then.
(And they got to know each other well in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.)
Will one or both be gone, possibly in the near future? Even Yeo admits big changes can happen.
Wild players, meanwhile, just seem beaten down … and maybe ambivalent about Yeo?