Wild Thursday: Granlund toiling, yet confident

THURSDAY’S STORY LINE: For the first time in his young career, 20 year-old Wild forward Mikael Granlund will be a healthy scratch Thursday night against the Canucks.

Granlund, who has struggled of late, said after morning skate Thursday: “I need to be better. This is a tough league.”

Coach Mike Yeo said though he thought Granlund played a good game Monday at Phoenix and said sitting him is a tough decision, the move is partially the result of a numbers game. But Granlund nevertheless does need to be better. Yeo met with his young forward to discuss his game.

“We talked about his game and how he felt on the wing and how he was generating a lot of his chances last game, the way he needs to play every night,” Yeo said. “Some of it is because he had a couple games that were less than average. You sort of put yourself in this position, as well. It is a learning process for him and again one we have to make sure we work with him every day and try to help him through.”

Keeping up his confidence will be important. Granlund has excelled at every level of play, and this is the first time in his career he has faced such adversity.

“I think it is good for young players to have to work for everything that they get,” Yeo said. “Not to say that he hasn’t, but he has never had to push through something like this. These kinds of things make you stronger. And that is what we want around here.”

Granlund, who has three points in nine games this season, admitted it has been tough adjusting to the smaller ice size in the NHL. Finding space isn’t as easy on an NHL rink as on an international rink.

“That is the biggest thing here; you don’t have as much space and you have to battle hard,” Granlund said. “There is a lot of one-on-one battles. That is a little bit different. I know what it is like now here.”

With Granlund coming out of the lineup, Devin Setoguchi will stay in. Setoguchi, will play on the fourth line with Mike Rupp and Zenon Konopka. Yeo liked the way Setoguchi played Monday against Phoenix. Still, he wants the forward to work his way back up to one of the top lines.

“We’re not giving him anything right now,” Yeo said. “We put him on the fourth line, and as far as I am concerned he responded really well. He is in a similar position tonight, and if he continues to do that I am confident he’ll work his way up.”