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Yeo: Wild ‘certainly loaded up’ top PP unit

Sep 17, 2013, 1:46 PM EDT

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When it comes to discussing his top-heavy power play, Wild head coach Mike Yeo isn’t beating around the bush.

“I think that we certainly loaded up that top unit,” Yeo told the Minnesota Star-Tribune. “That’s a very talented group.”

The Wild opened camp with Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley up front, joined by Ryan Suter and Jason Pominville on the points (the latter having played that role during his time in Buffalo.)

It’s a skillful quintet, to say the least.

Heatley’s a former 50-goal man, Parise’s a former 40-goal man, Suter finished sixth among all NHL d-men in power play assists last year, Koivu led the Wild in PP assists in 2008-09 and Pominville led the Sabres in PP assists in 2007-08.

If it sounds like the Wild are putting an extra emphasis on the man advantage this year, well, that’s because they are.

Minnesota operated at a 17.9 percent clip last season — 16th in the league — and that number was a disappointment considering the club added two key fixtures in the offseason in Suter and Parise.

Suter led the Wild in power play time on ice per game average (3:46) and Parise was third, with 3:25.

To pick things up, the club promoted Andrew Brunnette to a power-play consultant role in August.

[Brunette’s] an invaluable resource,” Yeo explained. “Our power play had the opportunity to be a lot better last year than it was.

“We were sixth in the league in total power-play shots on goal. That tells you we’re just not doing enough to score goals.”

Brunette is highly qualified for the PP gig. He was already working in Minnesota’s hockey ops department and is  barely removed from playing (was with Chicago in 2011-12).

He also made his mark during his playing career as a PP specialist.

Brunette scored 114 power play goals during his career and was a deft setup man as well, tying Joe Sakic for Colorado’s team-lead in power play assists in 2006-07, with 27.

With all these changes in place, Yeo figures the Wild are ready to become a great PP team.

“I think we’re ready to take a step,” he explained. “Let’s improve on top of that, let’s be one of the elite teams in the league. If you can do that, then that would be a huge contributing factor to the success of the team.”

  1. jpelle82 - Sep 17, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    not impressed. adding pominville to the 16th ranked pp doesnt seem like that much of an upgrade, especially since the best stats on pominville you can drum up are from 2007-2008. parise is far (5 years ago) removed from 40 goals and heatley is even further from 50 (2007?). the only recent numbers listed were suter’s from last year.

  2. dumptrucked - Sep 17, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    get back to me when you trade for Vanek. also when you get koivu off that unit. I want to see Charlie Coyle at center, he is a decent face off kid who is strong and can play the physical game in the corners and in front of the net. that would then allow A sniper from the side (Vanek) instead of Koivu.

    • rsmaggiemae - Sep 17, 2013 at 5:01 PM

      I agree let Coyle play center, I am not a huge fan of Koivu or Heatly…
      I would rather see the young guys play and get the experience they need even if the Wild lose games…. they just cant sit on the bench or be sent to Des Moines and wait

      I really was hoping that Haula would get a decent chance as he was a favorite of mine at the University but I dont see his name in tonites exhibition game to start….
      He could have pulled a Schultz on the Wild but he did not, he really wants to play here and be successful I always liked his attitude toward playing the game.
      Yeo said he was impressed with him during the scrimmages but I think Yeo is more impressed with Fontaine, who is good, but I was pulling for Haula….

      I know everyone is going to hate me for this, but I really dont like Yeo as the coach
      I have had season tickets and there were quite a few games that with Yeo;s decisions the Wild lost the games., I know is he a newer coach, but he is going on 3 years now and should get it… I was disappinted to see all the other coaches go to other teams this summer and we stuck with Yeo… only time will tell…

  3. rebekah319 - Sep 17, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    Coyle is already playing center and is on the 2nd unit. Also you put Koivu there because he makes plays and gets the puck to the ones that score the goals!

  4. polegojim - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:37 PM

    Being loaded only matters… if you’re performing like your loaded.

    The Wild are poised for success…but will it be realized?

    Or will we continue to hear about ‘how long it takes to rebuild’???

    With this current line up… no more excuses should be accepted. They should be good… right now..

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