Last weekend the Minnesota Wild played the Dallas Stars to a 3-2 OT loss in big D. Much of the game has been hashed out already, but one small detail of the game has been stuck in my brain. As time has progressed, my ire has grown. What, in Zues'es butt, was Nate Prosser even doing in that lineup?
In case you missed it, Nate Prosser was the 7th defensemen listed in the lineup. The idea itself is mind-numbing, and I have yet to see anything being reported that qualifies as a justifiable answer for why. Was Matt Dumba that hurt that Prosser's 2:35 of ice time was needed? How does that even make any sense? Was coach Yeo hoping to dial down Ryan Suter's minutes? Good job coach. I'm sure Suter appreciated the break in only playing 33:11 against the Stars. Is Prosser that good on the PK that the brief time coach did give him on the ice was all on the penalty kill? C'mon now ... Don't make me laugh. Do you want to see what Nate Prosser offered you on the PK?
That's just some quality work there Prosser. Tying up Jamie Benn like that and at the very least making it a challenge for him. Oh, wait, you did nothing of the sort. You in fact stood there holding your stick in the wind just watching that puck go sailing past you.
I don't mean to be overly harsh on Prosser. He has some value on the ice (citation needed). He does quickly get into position there, ahead of Benn, but therein lies the problem. Benn posts up in front of Devan Dubnyk, and Prosser just sort of stands there wondering what the hell he should do. Before long, it's too late.
Honestly though, it's not Prosser's fault he failed to even register a hit in his meager time on ice, or post any stat worth talking about besides maybe the 1 goal against on the PK. At the end of the day however, the fact that he was even played as the 7th defenseman is purely on coach Mike Yeo.
I don't typically go off on a tangent about the coach. For the most part I'm in the camp that Yeo is doing what he can with the pieces he has. He's a good coach often put in a bad spot. Yet the reasoning behind this move, to me at least, just stinks something foul. They called up Brett Bulmer, and planted him in the press box, assuredly to keep Niklas Backstrom entertained as he sat up there for his 16th consecutive game. (Dance puppet boy! Dance !) Yet the decision to play Prosser to either spell some of Suter's minutes or to not over-work a banged up Matt Dumba just does not pass the sniff test with me.
I get that the Wild are in salary cap hell at the moment. There were only 22 souls on the roster for the Dallas game. Well, 21 really. At this point are we even counting Backstrom anymore? Yet 1 of those, 1 extra spots was taken by a forward, who I don't know, could have played maybe? I promise you Bulmer would have had a lot more to offer the team than Prosser could muster up in his 2 minutes and change of PK time. Does Yeo really not trust his other 6 defenseman so much that he is going to play arguably his worst defenseman exclusively against the Western Conference's best power play unit?
I guess about the only logic in that is, if Prosser gains control of the puck long enough without getting drilled into the boards, he's good enough to ice the puck. What better time for him to shine in icing than on the PK?
It's not the defensive core that has been riddled with injuries either. Last I checked the Wild's depth at forward was being severely tested with Zach Parise, Tyler Graovac, and Justin Fontaine being out of the lineup. So, lets bring in extra defensive help? To me, that kind of idea simply spits in the face of logic. Let's say you were going to start an extra defenseman, you would then need to double shift a forward, correct? Looking at the Wild's lineup, who would you want more than Parise out there for extra minutes? Among forwards though, Mikko Koivu topped the minutes game with 23:41, and second on the team? Mikael Granlund, with 22:15. The guy has struggled to find the toilet this season, let alone his game. I get trying jump start his game, but on the road in Dallas short a forward is probably not the place.
Ultimately, it was at it's bare minimum a poor coaching decision on Yeo's part. He's starting to slip into some old habits, where Prosser gets a pass for under-achieving, and Suter's minutes are starting to sky rocket. Something I haven't noticed so much in the last week or so is Suter's mobility. It was just a few short weeks ago I was dazzled by some speed he showed on the ice, and we were seeing the benefits of rolling 3 healthy defensive lines. Did it cost us the game in Dallas? Who really knows for sure. It's always been tough for the Wild to go into that city and come out with 2 points. The fact that they pulled 1 point is a nice little bonus.
Hopefully we don't see more of this anarchy tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins. I'd like to believe that experiment is over, buried in the compost with my rotting pumpkins. I certainly don't envy Coach Yeo's job right now. It's never easy when you lose a Parise along with some key role guys at the forward position. That doesn't mean you should just give up Yeozie.
Side note: The most goals Jason Pominville has scored against any 1 team is 19 against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Thursday's opponent the Boston Bruins. Maybe he breaks his scoring drought this week? Stay tuned.