In my head, I keep hearing Johnny Drama screaming, “VICTORY!!!” in the HBO show, Entourage.
It’s been awhile since the Wild left an arena victorious – 26 days to be exact, but here in Vancouver this evening, the Wild beat the Canucks 5-2 for its first win since Jan. 21 to snap an eight-game losing streak.
Years ago, when the Wild was in this bigtime funk with Brian Rolston on the team, Rolston told me after the Wild snapped the losing streak that he told the players during the last TV timeout not to throw their sticks and gloves on the ice like they won the Cup.
It was a great line – one that I stole for lede of my gamer, which you can read on startribune.com/wild. Tonight, the Wild acted like it had been there before after the win.
Still, lots of joy in the locker room after.
As always, please go check out startribune.com/wild for the gamer, a John Torchetti article and the notebook on lots of odds and end, including the Mike Reilly-Christian Folin pair.
Solid game. Five different goal scorers, strong efforts throughout, pace, energy, execution and get ready for this especially when the Wild’s ahead in games, Torchetti rolling four lines. The ice times are up front were pretty even, especially with the second, third and fourth lines.
Zach Parise, who played the first line, played 15:54. Mikael Granlund, who played the second line, 15:55. Thomas Vanek, on the second line, and Jason Pominville, on the third, played less than 13 minutes. Fourth-liners got in that range, too. Jason Zucker played 14:32.
Only Charlie Coyle and Mikko Koivu played 16 minutes-plus as forwards. Ryan Suter logged 27:35.
Torchetti improved to 3-0 in NHL head-coaching debuts with the win, then was a quote machine after. It was amazing his throat wasn’t sore because he spent the entire game teaching on the bench. At one point, he was in a player’s ear for 30 seconds. I couldn’t tell whom it was because we’re oddly as press on the bench side of the ice, an oddity in NHL arenas.
Torchetti finally stepped away and it was Zach Parise.
“It was great,” Torchetti said. “It kept us into the game. It kept life in there. You’re held accountable to make the right play all the time. I thought as a group, we did a good job of starting well and maintaining it throughout the game and playing at a pretty high pace.”
Torchetti gets himself up for games on the bench by inhaling smelling salt. “Is that different?” he said, laughing. He said it’s always something he did as a player and has continued it as a coach. “That’s my only superstition, so I have to keep it.”
Torchetti speaks so fast and is so technical, he’s not easy to quote and takes forever to transcribe, but here’s some of his gold after tonight.
On what the heck he’s saying to the players on the bench throughout, he said, “Just little stuff. Details. If you’re losing a race, let’s work to the puck area a little bit better. We just want to tighten up in certain areas and keep building what I feel will help us improve moving forward. And hopefully they have trust in me when I ask them to do something differently or make a better decision. It’s not always the correct way, but we want to make sure they know the outs are there or just a little play where the player should talk to the other player. We’re losing puck possession’s that we should be holding onto, so we have to talk a little more on the ice, especially on a line change. If your partner’s in trouble, just work and get open and then you’ll keep your offense going.”
Want more Torch?
He told the guys to “keep attacking the net, having fun on offense, control the puck, be poised in our cycles. Cycles equals puck possession. And going with four lines. Moving forward we want to be a four-line team and when we piggybacked a couple matchups, the boys did a great job on that, did their changes. Overall just a solid game for 60 minutes from all 20.”
The Wild got its sixth power-play goal in the last six road games after six in the first 22. The Wild’s PK though has given up eight in the past seven (two tonight).
“The power-play goal where they tipped it and it went over Dubs, I said, ‘hey, now we’re going to have to get one like that,’ and we happened to get it (Charlie Coyle’s sixth in 10 games),” Torchetti said. “I said, ‘You deserve it.’ Sometimes some nights you don’t get the breaks and you’re working. We did a good job. We want a better net-front presence on the power play still, meaning we don’t want the guy to see the shot. It’s great to tip it, but we have to get in front of its goalie. And we’ll build from that. But we got a good goal, but we had a couple other good looks and we had our numbers inside of their numbers, which I really like going forward. Just keep building on it and building that confidence. We had some good seam plays. Mikko made a really nice play to Dums there. I was hoping he’d one-time it because beating goalies in this league, you’re not going to be able to catch it and shoot it and we also had the backdoor open, but those are the plays if you execute it one out of five, you’re 20 percent, you keep improving and you’re building your confidence on the power play.”
See what I mean with the quotes? He picks out pieces of games in the middle of quotes and remembers them to a T.
He said it was just fun tonight.
“Well, the game is fun,” he said. “I’ve always had fun. I mean, I might not look it on the bench, but I’m having fun. For players, working hard together – and it’s you against them, it’s your team executing your team philosophy against the opponent, so let’s have fun doing what we do best and we have to do it collectively. That’s why we have to be on the same page and make sure we’re on the same gameplan.”
Still, he’s not going overboard with the win, but, “We want them in a good mood. When you take over jobs, there’s a reason why you’re here. You just have to try to build confidence in the team, pat them on the back here or there, but also let them know there’s a different way that’s an option.”
He definitely wants the penalties stopping. He didn’t like that Boston got six power plays in Mike Yeo’s final game and tonight the Wild took three in the second, and it helped ruin the Wild’s flow and continuity, he felt.
His message after the game?
“Enjoy the moment first, they haven’t had a good time. Enjoy your buddy for working hard tonight for ya. They’ll want to be hungry to come out and prove themselves again. We just want them feeling good about themselves and then we’ll make are corrections and adjustments and improve and get better.”
Devan Dubnyk snapped a 0-8-1 slide, his first win since Jan. 9.
“Just the feeling that we had, the way we worked in the first period, we just weren’t going to be denied no matter what happened,” Dubnyk said. “We played fast, and I think that’s what we got away from the last little while. You see what we can do when we do play like that.”
Added Parise, “We got the result that we wanted and I think that we deserved. Right from the start of the game, there was a lot of energy from us. We responded really well. There was life in the room and on the bench. Guys played hard, guys competed. I thought we were a tough team to play against.
“It’s been tough lately. To get started in the right direction, to get rewarded for hard work, all of us were excited, we were happy for each other, we were cheering each other on. It made the game fun. I know wining is fun, but throughout the game we had a lot of excitement.”
Added Mikko Koivu, “The way we played, we have to start building the right way, and I thought we did that. We talked about playing a full 60-minute game, and for the most part it was pretty solid.
“From top to bottom, I thought we were on our game tonight.”
Tons of details in the gamer, Torchetti piece and the notebook.
Mandatory CBA day off Tuesday in Calgary, so barring news, no practice and likely no blog because I have a ton of work to do.