Yeo benches Setoguchi; Wild beat Sharks in SO

BY foxsports • January 10, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Wild forward Devin Setoguchi missed a
month with a knee injury, but he returned to the ice last week and
played well in his first two games back.

On Tuesday, however,
Setoguchi was a healthy scratch for Minnesota's 5-4 shootout win over
the San Jose Sharks. Not for performance reasons — Setoguchi had nine
total shots on goal and an assist in his first two games back from
injury — but for disciplinary reasons.

After Minnesota's victory,
Wild head coach Mike Yeo would only say that Setoguchi was scratched
because of a "violation of a team rule" but wouldn't elaborate on what
that was.

"It's not an easy decision, especially how valuable he
is to our team," Yeo said of benching Setoguchi. "The thing is we all
have to be held accountable. But with that, this is still a guy that
cares very much and is still a good person and still a very big part of
our team. So come tomorrow, it's a clean slate."

Setoguchi was
acquired from the Sharks this offseason, but he wasn't on the ice
Tuesday when his former team came to town. Setoguchi scored 20 or more
goals in his past three seasons with San Jose. Prior to Tuesday,
Setoguchi had 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 30 games.

Yet
with the Wild struggling offensively — their 2.2 goals per game before
Tuesday was second-lowest in the NHL — Yeo sacrificed Setoguchi's
offense to send a message. Defenseman Marco Scandella was also recently
sent down to Minnesota's AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros, due to on-ice
struggles. Scandella is currently a team-worst minus-10 in 37 games.

Yeo's decisions were well-received in the locker room.

"He
makes the calls. He's the boss," said goalie Josh Harding, who stopped
34 shots to earn the win. "Whatever he decides, that's what we're going
to do. Even without those messages, I think the team knew that we need
to respond. We need to get out of this funk. I thought we did that
tonight."

Indeed, Tuesday's win snapped a three-game losing
streak for the Wild, who have now won just twice in their last 13 games.
For a team that once held the best record in the NHL, Minnesota had
been fading fast.

"It's getting to crunch time. We've got to do
what we can to field the best team out there where we can win games,"
said defenseman Justin Falk, who had two assists in Tuesday's win. "It's
all about getting wins this time of year now."

Yeo is trying to
leave his mark in his first year as the coach of the Wild. Scratching
Setoguchi for violating a team rule is a start.

"We're just
trying to build a culture here where our standards are higher than
everybody else's," Yeo said. "With that, tomorrow is a new day. It's not
something that I'm going to sit here and dwell upon because I think the
bigger story is about our game."

Without Setoguchi and winger
Pierre-Marc Bouchard — who is out again with concussion symptoms —
Minnesota needed offense from other outlets against San Jose. Cal
Clutterbuck and Matt Cullen each scored their 11th goals of the season,
but the Wild also got goals from unlikely sources in Warren Peters and
Nick Johnson.

Peters was credited with the Wild's first goal of
the second period when he deflected a Falk shot past Sharks goalie Antti
Niemi. It was Peters' first goal in 21 games this season and gave
Minnesota a 2-1 lead.

Johnson netted his fifth goal of the season
on a wrister that beat Niemi glove side. It was Johnson's first goal in
16 games and gave Minnesota a 3-1 cushion at the 7:42 mark in the third
period.

The Wild also got contributions from Casey Wellman (two
assists) and center David McIntyre, who notched his first career point
in just his third NHL game when he assisted on Peters' second-period
goal.

In fact, six of the Wild's 12 points in Tuesday's win came from players who were not on Minnesota's opening-day roster.

"You
need that, for sure," Yeo said. "It's hard to sit here and talk just
about those guys because from our goaltender to our defensemen, I was
happy with everybody's game out there today. But you need guys to step
up and fill roles. We have guys out right now. The biggest thing is the
way that they did it leads me to believe that they can go out — and
actually I'm expecting them to go out — and do it the next game as
well."

Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.



Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.


share story