ST. LOUIS – Without defenseman Jonas Brodin, and with the addition of forward Tyler Graovac, the Minnesota Wild will look to snap a four-game losing streak (0-3-1) on Saturday against the St. Louis Blues.
Brodin sustained a broken foot on Thursday against the New York Rangers, and is expected to miss 3 to 6 weeks. Graovac was recalled Saturday morning, and will draw into the lineup with Thomas Vanek and Jason Zucker scratched.
Defenseman Christian Folin, who was recalled from Iowa on Monday, will play in place of the injured Brodin.
"I will stand here and say that's one thing that I believe in: standing up for your players," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "I believe in the end that has benefits, and certainly there comes a time though where we continue to go down the path that we're going where we need to make some changes, and we're at that point right now."
The change on Thursday is sitting Vanek and Zucker, a pair of forwards who have played in all 51 of the Wild's games this season.
"Whether it's message sending, whatever, we're going down a path that we need to change directions there," Yeo said.
It came during a morning when General Manager Chuck Fletcher addressed the media, stressing the Wild needed to get back to the process and playing its game, something Yeo and the players agreed with.
"When we're playing well, we've got the puck, we're making short passes up the ice, were supporting each other really well," Zach Parise said. "Just little four or five feet passes to break out and we come up the ice together. When we struggle, sometimes it feels like we look for guys flying, and stretching, and plays can open up a lot."
Fletcher also said he felt the coaches have been incredibly patient with some players. On Saturday, a change was made.
"What it comes down to is looking at the games we've been playing, looking at the performance, and the reality is some of the guys coming out of the lineup have been probably performing better and playing better than some other guys," Yeo said. "What it is, is doing the right thing right now."
Vanek and Zucker each said they need to play better, but most importantly, the Wild needs to get back to winning.
"We need to win, so if he thinks taking me out, it's a better lineup, again, I have to respect that, work hard, and make sure I get back in there and prove him wrong," Vanek said. "We're losing games, things need to change, and tonight I'm the change."
Zucker said his performance needs to be more consistent.
"We haven't been playing well, number one, and I'll be the first one to tell you I haven't been on top of my game," he said. "That's just the way it goes. It's the NHL. This isn't college, or juniors where you can just flow through a season. This is the best league in the world for a reason, and if you're not playing well, you're not going to play."
Here is the Wild's projected lineup:
Zach Parise – Mikko Koivu – Charlie Coyle
Nino Niederreiter – Mikael Granlund – Jason Pominville
Ryan Carter – Tyler Graovac – Justin Fontaine
Chris Porter – Jarret Stoll – Erik Haula
Ryan Suter – Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella – Matt Dumba
Nate Prosser – Christian Folin