Yes it was an ugly collapse, yes the Wild still had to fight through several stretches where it seemed they were never going to get out of their own end. But without Setoguchi or Bouchard, the Wild managed to score four goals against the Sharks, and hold on for a shootout victory they may or may not have deserved.
After losing to a beatable Calgary team on Saturday, the Wild bounced back and found a way to win what is probably their toughest matchup in January.
Yes, yesterday's win is only the 2nd victory in 13 games, but it helps ensure they stay on the right side of the playoff bubble for now. This weeks games at Chicago and St. Louis are both going to be challenging, but the Wild can show a willingness to take their fate in their own hands, victories here will put the Wild back toward the top of the West and away from the bubble.
With only two home games left in January and plenty of tough road tests, points will be hard to come by. However, if last night proved anything, it is that there are ways to win every game, just a matter of finding them.
So apparently Setoguchi missed a meeting yesterday which resulted in his being scratched last night. For everyone that has lamented the absence of offense in the lineup, I am yet to see anyone criticize Yeo for this decision. I shouldn't be too surprised by this, my frustration with Richards (which I believe was shared by the fan base at large) is that he was unable to motivate the team, which led to the collapse at the end of the season. So I think on some level, the fans understand that to not hold Setoguchi accountable would invite the potential that Yeo's principles can crack when tested. This would jeopardize Yeo's ability as a leader.
Obviously, it's much easier to support Yeo's decision because the Wild found a way to win the game without Setoguchi, but I imagine, the fans would still generally respect Yeo's decision even if the result were different. It's hard to know for sure, but I don't think my respect for fellow Wild fans is misplaced in issues like this.
Also glad to see Russo tweet that Setoguchi did apologize to the team, and take responsibility himself. I hope this never happens again. I'm willing to forget until it does.
Of course I'd like to congratulate Matt Cullen on his 1000 NHL games, becoming the seventh Minnesotan to do so. Cullen has struggled to find the next since his quick start, but I love the way he moves with the puck and I love the way he forechecks, he has always been a positive player, regardless of his role and whether or not it shows up in the box score. Cullen's number should rebound now the the Wild are becoming healthy .(though I think with Setoguchi's return Thursday, this is as healthy as the Wild will be for a while.)
Speaking of Richards, I am glad he is getting the chance to be a head coach again (albeit with the "interim" tag). Richards replaces the fired Scott Arniel in Columbus. As little as I like the Blue Jackets and Arniel, I do hope Richards learned from mistakes here and will do a better job this time around.