Minnesota Wild's Pierre-Marc Bouchard (96) passes the puck as Phoenix Coyotes' Kyle Chipchura defends during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)The Associated Press
Phoenix Coyotes' Martin Hanzal (17) scores a goal past Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom, and Wild's Dany Heatley (15), Jonas Brodin (25) and Ryan Suter (20) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)The Associated Press
MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. – The Minnesota Wild haven't been playing up to their hype and potential, and in this lockout-shortened season the time for a turnaround is tight.
Winless in four road games this year, the Wild returned home this week and will host Vancouver on Thursday. Seven of their next nine games are against Northwest Division teams. The 48-game season is about 20 percent gone.
So at practice Wednesday, coach Mike Yeo shuffled his forward groups again. Dany Heatley was taken off the first line. Rookie Charlie Coyle replaced him. Newly acquired enforcer Mike Rupp will be on the fourth line. The Wild have scored only 20 goals in nine games.
Yeo says he realizes points in the standings are more critical now than ever.