Do Marco Scandella’s Minutes Need To Be Limited?


Part of the traits of a good coach is how they manage their personnel and putting their athletes in the best position to succeed.  It might be the system that you ask your team to execute or how you match your player’s up.  Smart coaches look for potential mismatches in their favor and do their best to exploit them.  As a High School football coach, at times its just a matter of realizing which player is feeling it.  Some nights a certain running back seems to be making the right cuts or getting the better blocks and piling up the yards.  It may not be your fastest or strongest runner, but for whatever reason they are your most productive ball carrier.  For whatever reason the player is in the zone and most coaches will continue to give him the ball until the opposition stops them or they show signs of major fatigue.

Last night during the Fox Sports Net North‘s Wild Live pre-game show, when the Minneapolis Star Tribune‘s Michael Russo reported and shared the Wild Coaching staff’s rationale that there is a need to keep Marco Scandella close to around 20 minutes a game for fear of exhausting him.  When I was done rolling my eyes at the statement I began to analyze the logic behind it.  According to Russo, Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said that what Scandella provides the Wild is completely unique.  He is a mobile defenseman who can provide solid physical play on a Wild blueline that is pretty soft overall is certainly an exclusive quality that Scandella brings to the table.  The only other player that comes close in regards to mobility, physical ability albeit not quite as dynamic in either realm is Ryan Suter.  The logic is that Scandella’s shifts are more intense and physically demanding (as now he is often matched up against the opposing team’s top players) than the minutes logged by the rest of the Wild’s blueliners.

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  • Yet does that really make sense?  While I agree Scandella has become a major part of the team’s ability to shut down the opposition’s top players, but would playing him more than 20 minutes per night be too much for the 24-year old to handle?  I don’t think so.  It seems amazingly absurd or hypocritical to say the team that regularly allows Suter to log 30 minutes per night as he goes about 75% through most of his shifts is deeply worried about overplaying Scandella.  While Scandella’s skillset and the intensity of his shifts are certainly a big reason why he plays such a crucial role for the team, I also think the team is hurting itself by not giving him more opportunities on the man advantage.  Nick Fritz of Sporting Sota seems to agree with me.

    "“He’s arguably our top defensive defenseman and when you see the maturation of his game offensively, it’s a real nice combination of skills to have.” ~ Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher on Marco Scandella"

    Scandella’s other intangible is his offensive skills which includes both his creativity with the puck and his booming shot which is why he leads the team in goals from the blueline.  Want to know how many power play goals Ryan Suter has this season for the Minnesota Wild?  Zero.  Suter has zero goals on the power play despite logging the most ice time of any Wild skater with over 204 minutes on the man advantage this season.  93 minutes more of ice time than the next Wild defenseman on the list, Jared Spurgeon.   In fact, Scandella is 5th among Wild defenseman with power play ice time just 33:28 to their credit behind Jonas Brodin (48:22) and Mathew Dumba (40:31) who has played in just 27 games.   Despite that fact Scandella still has a power play goal to his credit unlike Suter, Brodin or Dumba.  Yet the Wild would have you believe that giving Scandella time on the either the 1st or 2nd power play unit would make the rest of his game fall apart.

    Scandella does log the most ice time on the penalty kill (108 minutes), with 8 more minutes than even Ryan Suter.  While I would agree that playing in the defensive zone on the penalty kill is more physically exerting than being on the power play I don’t see how giving Scandella more of an opportunity on the power play (even being used on the 2nd unit) would deplete him so much he would not be effective on the PK.  In my opinion, Brodin and Spurgeon could make up some of that difference.

    The Wild gave Marco Scandella a 5-year contract extension and he is close to entering the prime of his career which makes it all the more baffling that he’s 4th among Wild defenseman in total ice time.  An investment like that would make one believe they feel he can be a workhorse.  I would agree that team needs to manage Scandella’s minutes, but I think they need to loosen the leash so to speak.

    Need another reason to give Scandella few more minutes?  How about the fact he has 4 game-winning goals (tied for 1st with Charlie Coyle) and with each game’s importance seemingly magnified as the regular season inches its way towards its conclusion you want your most clutch players on the ice.  Hopefully the team’s management of Scandella’s minutes doesn’t cost the team in terms of wins and losses down the stretch.  It might be cliche, but just like timeouts, you can’t take them home and keeping Scandella on the bench on key opportunities isn’t helping the Wild’s cause.  I do agree their needs to be moderation in any increase of ice time you give to him, but at this point the Wild are not in a position where they can afford to hold anything back.  Not even Marco Scandella.