Brodziak, Zucker Talk Chemistry, Goals
Wayne Gretzky is famously quoted for saying, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”
It’s not only a lesson in hockey, but in life. But then again, he might want to amend his statement in the case of Kyle Brodziak. Last night the centerman snapped a 30-game goalless skid, yet he didn’t even put the puck in the net.
As he skated towards a yawning net with about 30 seconds left in last night’s tilt with Buffalo, Brodziak was tripped up from behind by Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff at the blue line and was unable to get a shot off towards the empty net. As a result, Brodziak was awarded the goal, but not a shot.
Head Coach Mike Yeo joked after the game that Brodziak was going top shelf with it. Well, the Lighthouse caught up with him today to double check if that was indeed what he was thinking. As you can see, a big grin spread across his face and jokingly said “of course” to confirm the assumed target for the goal.
He added that he has seen that rule come into effect at some point in his career, but couldn’t recall when. Though he did say it was the first time he’s ever been a part of it. The goal marked his third of the season with his second coming against Chicago on Oct. 26.
“I guess you kind of envision it a little differently than that,” Brodziak said. “But whatever. Hopefully now you won’t be thinking about it as much and are just focused on playing your game.”
In addition to the goal, Brodziak also moved down to the fourth line yesterday as the Wild drastically shook things up in an effort to find some answers after a six-game skid. The 29-year-old centered Stephane Veilleux and Torrey Mitchell, and was pleased with their chemistry.
“I think it was a step in the right direction,” Brodziak said. “Obviously it’s going to be a process of building chemistry. But I think it was a good step in the right direction and hopefully we can take another step tomorrow.”
And the chemistry seemed to be blossoming up and down the lineup as the Wild saw 10 different players pick up points last night, including Jason Zucker who netted his first goal of the season.
After being shuttled between Minnesota and Iowa quite a bit this season Zucker noted it was great to finally get that first one.
“When a young kid comes in, often you put them under the microscope a little bit,” Yeo said of Zucker. “I thought he played well without the puck. His first shift he was right around the net and almost got an opportunity there. His speed was a factor in the game so he’s definitely got to continue to go out and do that.”
Currently, Zucker is skating with Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter. At 21 years of age each, they make up the youngest line. But the winger also noted that their relationship off the ice only adds to their chemistry on it.
“That always helps,” Zucker said. “We can talk to each other on ice and try to fix things after shifts and stuff like that. So it’s been good.”
Be sure to check out today’s feature on Zucker and stay tuned after tomorrow’s game to catch him on “Becoming Wild” as he takes us to Las Vegas, his hometown.
“I just got a couple discs now so I’m excited to watch it and see what they put together and how bad they made me look,” Zucker joked. “It’s a cool thing to be able to do and I’m honored to be able to do that as a part of this team.”
Pleasantries aside, Yeo said he was pleased with the way the team was able to put last night behind them and get back to work this morning. The Wild worked quite a few aspects of the game, putting time in on line rushes, special teams and battles down low.
“A win is great, but I think today we were able to push that aside,” Yeo said. “Today, our focus was on our practice.”
Justin Fontaine did leave the session early looking a little dazed. Yeo said he got dinged but was still waiting on an update about the rookie. As of practice, he still expects Fontaine to be in the lineup tomorrow against the Capitals.
Josh Harding was absent once again, still feeling unwell. Yeo said he was day-to-day. Regardless if he is feeling better tomorrow, the bench boss plans to start Niklas Backstrom in net Saturday night. Jared Spurgeon was also missing from practice and it appears he simply had another maintenance day as he did earlier in the week.
Zenon Konopka Claimed By Buffalo
Known as an enforcer and for his skill in the faceoff circle, Konopka was also a presence in the locker room and was always ready with some sort of wisecrack.
“I just talked to Z and I wished him luck,” Yeo said. “I think it’s going to be a good opportunity for him.”
Konopka, who was the odd-center out after the line shuffling earlier this week, was placed on waivers yesterday to clear a roster spot so the Wild were able to recall goaltender Darcy Kuemper in an emergency situation.
"We're happy for him, but where we're at with our centermen right now, that's what we wanted to get to: four guys that we feel can contribute both offensively and defensively," Yeo said. "Every line should be able to go out and contribute."