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Pivotal Moment: Deployment

There were plenty of big moments, but we take another look at how player deployment is changing under John Torchetti

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

There were several moments that swung momentum and ultimately contributed to the final result of last night’s tilt against the Flames. Erik Haula continued to play like a man on a mission, turning in his second consecutive 2 point game and breaking open the scoring in the first off a Jason Pominville faceoff win. The Wild spent plenty of time in the box, but the penalty kill was able to overcome 4 of 5 penalties, the most egregious to Nate Prosser as time expired on the second period. Charlie Coyle put the game away by actually scoring an empty net goal (even though Justin Fontaine couldn’t quite pull the trigger with a big opportunity).

Though these were great moments in the game, a fundamental shift occurring behind the bench put these players in position to make these plays. Though some fans are irritated that this team has suddenly come to life after potentially costing their coach his job by giving up on him, it is clear that the deployment of the players by John Torchetti is fundamentally different and is putting many players in a better position to succeed. Let’s take a closer look at the numbers, as we did following the Vancouver game, and some not-so-typical deployments of the players on the team:

  • Marco Scandella pulled up lame at the morning skate, and Nate Prosser took his spot on the 2nd pair
  • Reilly and Folin stuck together on the 3rd pair after a decent game in Vancouver
  • Ryan Suter, as usual, led in TOI at 27:56 including 7 minutes on special teams
  • Nate Prosser, a game after being a healthy scratch, played 20:25 with 4:46 on the PK and notched an assist
  • Christian Folin saw 20 minutes of action with 5 minutes of solid PK time, blocked 3 shots
  • Jared Spurgeon also saw 21:53 TOI with 5:04 on the PK
  • Matt Dumba 15:35, Mike Reilly 12:12 as neither play PK, but the defense was very evenly spread
  • Mikko Koivu again led all forwards at 19:08 with more than 5 min on special teams
  • Jarrett Stoll, Justin Fontaine, Charlie Coyle and Haula all played more minutes than Zach Parise, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville
  • Vanek and Pominville both saw less than 12 min TOI and neither were on the first PP unit
  • In a second period 5-on-3, Torchetti deployed 4 forwards and 1 defender, which resulted in a quick goal
  • 13 of 18 players saw PP time as the team went on a run of PP’s during the second
  • Haula, Pominville and Koivu all had 1G 1A nights, taking full advantage of their time on the ice
  • Nino Niederreiter (2A) and Coyle (1G) both kept their points streaks alive
  • The Nino-Haula-Pominville line continued to show magic with a very balanced attack

The empowerment of the youth by utilizing them in a fair and balanced manner has served to ignite several players on this team that we have been expecting to take the next step in their development.  This has also not come at the detriment of the veterans as the Kaptain, Parise and Pominville have all broken through on the score sheet in the past couple of days.  Though it is a very small sample size against two struggling opponents, it looks to be a winning formula that the team should look to build on.  That journey continues tonight against one last struggling Canadian team before heading to the great outdoors to face the dreaded Blackhawks at TCF bank Stadium on Sunday, which should give us a really good idea of whether this is really the secret sauce to finding success for the Wild.