Wild Practice Is Dirty Work

Posted by Mike Doyle

The Wild have been trying to get dirty the last couple of weeks, and, no, not the Christina Aguilera kind of “Dirty.”

Head Coach Mike Yeo has been emphasizing dirty (a.k.a. garbage) goals.

Fresh from a thrilling 2-1 overtime win in Detroit – in which both goals could be filed into the dirty category – the Wild continued to work on getting shots on goal in practice today. Yeo spoke with the media afterwards and stated the team still needs to have a shoot-first mentality, which essentially means don’t pass up a good shot on goal.

For players without the puck, Yeo stressed the importance of staying in front of the net and crashing the crease, incase a rebound does pop out, they are there to put home a dirty one.

At the end of practice, Devin Setoguchi was deflecting pucks in front of goaltender Josh Harding while the defensemen unleashed shots from the point. Setoguchi described the anatomy of a dirty goal, “It’s probably not the first shot, but the second or third one, where you get a couple of whacks at it and bang it in.

“You’ve got to bear down in front,” said Setoguchi, about the mentality of a player in front of the net. “Obviously, their D are going to try and move you out of the way, so its about getting in front in the high traffic areas and being tough on pucks and get shots off of loose pucks.”

Also, contributing to dirty goals are shots from the point that get through traffic. D-man Justin Falk said that the defenseman have been working on moving laterally across the blue line to create shooting lanes. Apparently, the drills have been working because Captain Mikko Koivu’s game-tying goal was a redirected Falk wrister from the blue line. Falk said the ideal height for getting point shots through to the net was about a foot off the ice, because tipped pucks can be redirected up or down. It is also harder to block shots at that height.

Back on the ice practicing shots from the point was Clayton Stoner. The defenseman said his hand felt good and that his availability tomorrow is the coach’s decision.

Finally, trying to keep the Vancouver Canucks from scoring any dirty goals tomorrow night will be Josh Harding. Yeo joked that the coaching staff looked at the schedule and the Wild don’t play Detroit again until March, so Harding is scheduled to get his fourth start of the season, and first against a team without a flying wheel on its trademark.

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