Report: Wild to extend head coach Yeo

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After winning a playoff round for the first time in 11 years, the Minnesota Wild will reportedly bring back the coach that led them there.

Mike Yeo is expected to agree to a contract extension soon, according to sources of the Pioneer Press. Those same sources claim that both Minnesota and Yeo have “expressed interest in getting a deal done,” a key point that illustrates 1) the Wild want to keep Yeo, despite letting him coach this entire season in the last of a three-year deal with no guarantee of anything beyond; 2) Yeo won’t be hitting the open market for any of the current available gigs (Vancouver, Carolina, Florida, Washington) or ones that might come up (Pittsburgh, specifically.)

Yesterday, we asked if Yeo did enough this year to stick in Minnesota — and answered it pretty quickly.

The NHL’s youngest head coach at age 40, Yeo led the Wild to 43 wins this year, third-most in franchise history, and 98 points in the ultra-competitive Central Division, which featured the NHL’s third (Colorado), fourth (St. Louis) and seventh (Chicago) place teams.

The Wild also won a playoff round for the first time in since 2003— dispatching of the Avs in seven games — and showed great resilience against Chicago in Round 2, rebounding from an 0-2 deficit to make the series quite competitive.

Yeo did all this despite tremendous uncertainty in goal all season long, using four different starters while losing the services Josh Harding after he played at a Vezina-calibre level to start the year. Yeo also kept the team afloat as injuries sidelined Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund for a combined 51 games.

The Pioneer Press report did not sa7y anything about the future of Yeo’s staff, however. Assistants Rick Wilson, Darryl Sydor and Darby Hendrickson have been with Yeo throughout his three-year tenure and, following Tuesday’s loss to Chicago, Parise spoke highly of the entire staff.

“I think [all the coaches] did a good job,’’ Parise said, per the Star-Tribune. “We were prepared. We made adjustments when we needed to make adjustments, and we switched lines when we needed to.”

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.

Tortorella was irate after Roman Polak boarded Oliver Bjorkstrand

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John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.

Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.

First, take a look at the hit:

Next, behold Tortorella’s anger:

Again, Columbus couldn’t capitalize on its opportunities, so that didn’t make things any better.

Right now, the Maple Leafs lead the Blue Jackets 3-2. If Toronto ends up winning, this will stand as one of the game’s pivotal moments.

It’s far from the only exciting moment, however, with these goals and big hits also standing out.

Video: Josh Ho-Sang’s creativity gives Islanders a shot in the arm

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Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?

For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting up John Tavares.

The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.

Leafs’ Nylander puts on show with breakaway goal, assist on Matthews’ 33rd

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This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

Hnnngmgghh indeed.

That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

Update: OK, so Nylander’s really stealing the show. This is stupendous.