Thomas Vanek will watch Saturday’s crucial game from the press box

Associated Press

After an embarrassing 7-4 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night, Wild interim coach John Torchetti decided he needed to rattle his team.

Like his predecessor Mike Yeo, Torchetti has decided to send the Wild a message by benching forward Thomas Vanek. The 32-year-old has just two assists in his last six games and he finished Thursday’s game with a minus-2 rating despite playing under 14 minutes.

Vanek went down this road with Yeo, but it didn’t pay off. The team’s former coach was fired three games after sitting Vanek and Jason Zucker against St. Louis on Feb. 6.

Vanek’s scratching is telling considering how big this game is for Minnesota. The Wild are three points behind the Avalanche for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Today’s game against Carolina is Minnesota’s game in hand.