When you’re the quarterback of a powerplay that’s clicking at 12.5 percent, you’re going to catch some heat — and heat is exactly what Minnesota Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky is catching.
Especially in the local rags.
This morning, a pair Minnesota papers ran articles documenting Zidlicky’s struggles. The first, from Mike Russo of the Star-Tribune:
Marek Zidlicky is the ultimate high-risk, high-reward defenseman. So far this season, the veteran has been high risk with very little reward.
All those “Oh My” moments that have caused Wild fans to hold their breath the past few weeks finally landed the struggling blue-liner on the second power-play unit for the first time in his Wild career Tuesday night against the Red Wings.
Zidlicky might be a power-play specialist, but coach Mike Yeo feels most his turnovers of late have been a result of “forcing a lot of plays.”
“He’s almost been putting it on his shoulders to try to get our power play going,” Yeo said.
The second, from Bruce Brothers of the Pioneer Press:
Marek Zidlicky has no goals, two assists and is a minus-two in his first 11 games.
Counted on to be one of the Wild’s offensive leaders from the blue line since Brent Burns was traded away, Zidlicky had been so disappointing that Yeo dropped him to the second power-play unit and moved Jared Spurgeon up for Tuesday’s game.
Yeo said Zidlicky has perhaps been trying to do too much to help Minnesota’s power play, a unit that ranked 26th in the league going into Tuesday’s games, by passing too often.
Zidlicky’s been a great offensive defenseman for a long time and traditionally, a virtual lock for 40-45 points per season. But at 34, age and injuries (he missed 36 games last year with shoulder and hamstring ailments) have curbed his production — and that’s coincided with Minnesota needing more from him than years past. Trading away Burns left the Wild without another capable scoring d-man, so it’s pretty much up to Zidlicky to make things happen.
Problem is, they’re not happening. Minnesota only has eight total points from its defense this year, one of the lowest outputs in the NHL. If there was ever a team in the market for an offensive defenseman, it’s the Wild. Think the cap-strapped Sabres would be willing to move Jordan Leopold, who happens to be a Minnesota native? Just throwing it out there.