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Pivotal Moment: A Different Look

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There was a new coach behind the bench, and subtle changes immediately impacted the result.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes under the new coach.
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes under the new coach.
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

John Torchetti has spent all of one morning skate with the team, and was in the background talking to the press as the assistant coaches ran practice, but changes have already started to take hold.  Torchetti has already begun to show signs of fulfilling the role we've been told he would fill in holding the entire team accountable for their play, deploying the players who are playing well, and igniting certain players to get them to play at a higher level.  We saw Torchetti throughout the game chattering in the ears of his players with a fire in his eyes.  All in all, Torchetti was looking for different results and ultimately wasted no time in making some adjustments to help the team be successful.  Let's take a look at some items from how the game was managed to find signs of change.

  • Nate Prosser was scratched.
  • Mike Reilly played and was paired with Christian Folin.  The pair gained Torchetti's trust after playing together in Iowa
  • Ryan Suter unsurprisingly led the team in TOI at 27:35 including nearly 7 minutes on special teams, BUT:
  • Matt Dumba, was usually on the bottom of the TOI list under Mike Yeo.  Last night, he was 2nd in TOI at 21:19
  • Included in those 21 minutes were 3:45 on the power play, getting those minutes with the first unit.
  • The Forwards were led in TOI by the Parise-Koivu-Coyle line, with the Kaptain and Coyle both getting roughly 20 min TOI
  • Zach Parise played only 15:54 with 3:48 on the power play
  • Thomas Vanek played 12:45 with 2:30 on the power play
  • Jason Pominville played 12:39 with 2:46 on the power play
  • Pominville was also held on the bench for a significant stretch in the 2nd period
  • Nino Niederreiter was on the ice during a 2nd period 4-on-4
  • Mikael Granlund, Vanek and Pominville all played less 5v5 time than Justin Fontaine
  • Erik Haula got a pep talk from his new coach and turned in one of his best games of the season, notching 2 assists
  • Fontaine also got a boost in confidence with more TOI and scored a goal

These I present as evidence of things that would not have been expected under the previous coach.  Though the team didn't move away from their suffocating defensive system, a couple of players got the transition game working.  Zach Parise broke out of his scoring drought in the first and the other 4 goals came from youth players who have been utilized as depth scorers.  Several younger players including all three of the young guns (Granlund, Coyle, Niederreiter) found their way onto the score sheet.  Though some of last nights success should absolutely be contributed to the adrenaline coming from firing a coach, this game represents a blueprint for the types of games fans have been crying out for by enabling the youth and holding the veterans accountable.  If Torchetti and the other coaches can continue to pull the right levers, this team could absolutely wake back up and find a new gear they have yet to find through their youth getting the space they need to develop.