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Wild snap six-game losing streak with win over Sabres

Jan 2, 2014, 11:13 PM EDT

New York Islanders v Minnesota Wild Getty Images

With rumblings that Mike Yeo’s time as head coach is coming to an end, the Minnesota Wild kicked off their 2014 portion of the schedule with a win. It’s been a while.

The Wild had lost six straight heading into Thursday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. They came away with a 4-1 victory against the Sabres, who sit at the bottom of the NHL standings.

“I can’t express how good to it feels to get the monkey off our back,” said the Wild’s Clayton Stoner afterward, according to Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The recently snapped losing streak had dropped the Wild down to fifth in the Central Division, and speculation that Yeo’s tenure as Wild coach might be coming to an end as a result had been gaining momentum.

That led to this response from Yeo: “I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me.”

“What I want is for you guys to know I still believe in this group and you’re going to see that I’m still going to come in here and I’m going to coach not to try to save my job, I’m going to coach to try to give us a chance to get things going, get back on track and get back in the playoff race and keep building toward our ultimate goal.”

  1. thomasvanek - Jan 2, 2014 at 11:36 PM

    Wow Goliath beat David what a surprise.

  2. vstar1us - Jan 2, 2014 at 11:46 PM

    Was at the game, yes it was a win but it was Buffalo! Wilds coach Yeo dodged a bullet tonight. I was very happy with Stoner and Neno’s game.

  3. cmmorgan32 - Jan 3, 2014 at 12:16 AM

    I wouldn’t exactly call it a David vs. Goliath matchup with Minnesota’s skid and Buffalo actually putting a decent string of wins together.Backstrom was in net and he certainly didn’t play like the liability he supposedly is. Regardless, it’s amazing what can happen when a team can score some goals and play a decent game of hockey.

    • mp1131211 - Jan 3, 2014 at 2:26 AM

      It goes both ways. 2 games of this skid have been 4 goal games for the Wild. And the other teams have been scoring mostly 4, 5, 6 goals in a night. Backstrom played well tonight. It makes a huge difference.

      • cmmorgan32 - Jan 3, 2014 at 4:46 AM

        That’s true. They have been able to find the net recently, but where was that scoring ability before Winnipeg? The bulk of Backstrom’s games haven’t been “out of reach” games. Again, if Minnesota was halfway decent on the road, St. Louis in November, San Jose, or even Philly could have easily turned into wins. The problem I have is that the goalie (regardless of who it is) can only do so much if the guys in front of him aren’t playing well. That being said, it was nice to see a solid all-around game out of Minnesota for a change.

      • mp1131211 - Jan 3, 2014 at 12:51 PM

        I meant the other teams have been scoring 4,5,6 goals this entire skid. Even if the wild had scored 3-4 goals a game, that wouldn’t have been enough to win, with exception of the St Louis game.

      • cmmorgan32 - Jan 3, 2014 at 2:37 PM

        I know what you meant. You mean to tell me that if Minnesota could put together a halfway decent game on the road they couldn’t get wins against Philly, San Jose, Phoenix or even Columbus? Look at the recaps for some of those games. Look at the scoring summaries. Minnesota has ample time to make something happen and fails to do so. How many of those games did Minnesota’s opponents end up getting more shots on goal? How many of Harding’s wins could’ve easily turned into losses due to poor play upfront?

        I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It’s no secret that Backstrom can do a better job in net. However, it doesn’t matter if Minnesota can’t score. Minnesota is currently #29 in goals per game. Joining them at the bottom of the league in that category are teams like Buffalo, Calgary, Florida, Nashville, New Jersey, NY Rangers, and Carolina. Do you know what they all have in common? They are all currently without playoff spots.

        How many times have words or phrases like “sloppy,” “blown lead,” or “inability to score” been used when referring to a Minnesota Wild game this season? It doesn’t matter who is in net if the team can’t score. There are teams with “top” goalies on their rosters who aren’t doing very well. Is the goalie the only one responsible for their team’s poor performances?

        The fact of the matter is that Backstrom certainly makes for a nice scapegoat when the bulk of his (and Minnesota’s as a whole) losses have been a TEAM effort. If the blame game needs to be played, there are others on that roster who should be blamed just as much as Backstrom (if not more) and are not.

      • mp1131211 - Jan 3, 2014 at 7:36 PM

        “You mean to tell me that if Minnesota could put together a halfway decent game on the road ”

        Sure, but a ‘halfway decent game’ doesn’t mean decent scoring without decent goaltending. That’s my point. If your opponent scores 5 goals, you don’t need “halfway decent” goalscoring, you need incredible goalscoring.

        “there are others on that roster who should be blamed just as much as Backstrom”

        Again, sure. I’m in agreement. But if you’re concentrating that blame on “goalscorers”, then take into consideration that granlund’s been out, parise’s currently out, and Heatley is a mess (wow, I just looked it up, he’s at -14.)

        Not saying its all goaltending. But a lot of it is.

      • cmmorgan32 - Jan 3, 2014 at 10:01 PM

        It shouldn’t matter who’s out of the lineup. Look at how many of Pittsburgh’s players are out of the lineup. According to their website, there are 9 guys currently on IR (one of them being Malkin). Has their team suffered because of it? No. From the looks of things, you wouldn’t even know someone like Malkin was out of the lineup unless it was pointed out.

        Why are teams like Colorado and Pittsburgh 2 of the better teams in the league thus far? They get contributions from everyone. If there’s an individual or an entire line that’s playing like crap, the team is able to compensate for that. There are more guys w/ 10 goals on those teams than on Minnesota. The top 3 goal scorers for Minnesota are Parise (15), Pominville (18), and Heatley (8). I fail to see how Granlund (3) can be considered a “goal scorer” for Minnesota when he has arguably been more of a set-up/playmaker this season (from what I’ve seen anyway). Also, he’s one of the only guys that actually looked somewhat decent during the skid. He’s been out of the lineup before and the team has been able to compensate for it.

      • mp1131211 - Jan 4, 2014 at 2:47 AM

        Granlund has player 30 games and has 16 points (who do you think set up Pominville for a dozen of those goals?) and Heatley’s played 43 and has 12. Losing Granlund was a HUGE loss.

        Its true, Wild do not have the depth to be a real SC contender. No argument there.

      • mp1131211 - Jan 4, 2014 at 2:47 AM

        *has played

    • lilroot9 - Jan 3, 2014 at 8:51 AM

      Even though it may not be David vs Goliath (pretty close though), the Sabres have not won a road game since coaching change, score the least amount of goals, and have the least amount of talent in the league (currently, especially because of injuries and young players sent “down” for development). The only thing going for Buffalo is Miller, right now.

      Yes Minnesota is missing their #1 forward. Well on the worst team in the league, Buffalo, they are missing their #2 point player in Hodgson, Stafford got hurt in the first 5 minutes, and our highest paid forward is injured (which is probably better) and has 0 goals.

      Arguably the Sabres best player is a 19 year old rookie, making 900k, while the Wild have 4 forwards making more than the top earning forward in Buffalo (the guy with 0 goals). I know money does not always tell the full story, but the Wild should be destroying this Sabres team every time they play them. I am a Sabres fan and watched the game last night, the Sabres had maybe 1-2 good shots on goal (and that does not count the goal in the final 2 minutes, due to a group of players in front of goal on a rebound).

      I am not sure why Yeo is on the hot seat, they have the 19th highest payroll and their goal tending has been rough. What do people really expect? They sign a bunch of expensive free agents (where you over pay) and people think they should just win games? Don’t get me wrong, the two free agents (Suter, Parise) are good, but not good enough to single handily win games. Being on the bubble for playoffs is about where they should be (if not maybe 7th or 8th), so I am lost as to why Yeo is on hot seat. Do the fans want them to be better? Sure, but don’t we all want our team to be better?

      • cmmorgan32 - Jan 3, 2014 at 12:44 PM

        As I said in another one of my comments on this article, Yeo being on the hot seat can be attributed to the fact that Minnesota has had significant slumps in each of the 3 seasons he’s been the head coach. Also, the head coach does tend to be the one of the first people fans direct their anger towards regardless of if it’s warranted or not.

  4. c9castine - Jan 3, 2014 at 1:31 AM

    not sure how Yeo gets so much heat in Minnesota when your top forward is out your starting goaltender has to miss chunks of time and your backup (who used to be your starter) isn’t playing good, you have 1 defenseman, and your next best forwards are mikko koivu, jason pominville, and nino neiderreiter.

    21-17 looks pretty decent to me after a slump.

    • strictlythedanks - Jan 3, 2014 at 2:39 AM

      1 great defenseman that is, Brodin is good. WHen you add in the ot losses this team should be a helluva lot better than .500 even with some injuries.

    • cmmorgan32 - Jan 3, 2014 at 3:30 AM

      It’s simple. Fans need someone to blame when their team isn’t doing well and the coach is the most likely target (regardless of if it’s warranted or not). Yeo’s heat can be attributed to the season threatening slump Minnesota has had each season Yeo has been head coach.

      Backstrom is better than a lot of people make him out to be. The bulk of his playing time has been on the road. The majority of losses Backstrom and Harding have are from road games. People seem to only look at the win/loss record of a goalie and make judgments and not look deeper. It’s one thing if Backstrom was giving up multiple goals in a short time frame (like in Pittsburgh), but more often than not Minnesota’s inability to score goals is what did them in rather than Backstrom being in net. If you look at some of the losses w/ Backstrom in net, they weren’t exactly “out of reach” games. If Minnesota could actually score goals (especially on the road), some of those losses could’ve easily been wins.

      Sorry for my rant on Backstrom. I just find it interesting how he has become a scapegoat for fans when the main problem continues to be lack of offense.

  5. mnwildnstar - Jan 3, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    I’m not one to blame goalies for team collapse’s…but Backstrom isn’t on the top of his game and the game Harding played last wasn’t his best. When a team struggles it’s tough to be playing intense with that we can’t score pressure and a soft goal slips in, its a knife to the gut. They are professionals and are paid to deal with it. Lets face it they are human with many young players and emotions are going to sway back and forth from too high to too low. It’s growing pains people. Last nights Sabres game was a positive. I think Backstrom has his eye back and is seeing the play again. Let’s run with this and hope it continues.

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