Minnesota Wild coach Dean Evason didn’t hold back on Tuesday with his thoughts of his team’s special teams play.
“Our power play has sucked,” Evason said during a media availability session.
He isn’t wrong.
Minnesota went 0-for-4 with a man advantage against St. Louis in Saturday’s Winter Classic matchup, and the Wild entered Wednesday ranked 24th in the NHL having converted 16.8% of their power play opportunities so far this year.
Enter Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi into the lineup.
The Wild’s first round selections in the 2019 and ’20 NHL Entry Drafts, respectively, were called up from the Iowa Wild this week after helping the team to the fourth-best power play in the American Hockey League at 22.1%.
The hope is that they give a boost to the Wild’s play and just overall to a team that has lost five straight games and its position atop the Central Division as well. They are expected to make their NHL debut on Thursday in Boston.
“They are power play guys and should be put into that position,” Evason said of Boldy and Rossi. “We’re going to give them an opportunity to play … and if it doesn’t go exactly to play and they don’t score five goals in Boston and light up the power play too, it’s alright. It’s a process. “
While they are the top two prospects for the Wild and players that fans have been waiting to see in the NHL, Evason said they are not expected to lead the team into the “promised land” but rather just play the style that is expected with the organization: with grit, determination and heart.
“We want them to be who they are,” Evason said. “Do what they’ve always done … what it they have done to get to this point.”
Minnesota was already without defenseman Jared Spurgeon and center Joel Erikkson Ek and goalie Cam Talbot due to injuries, and Jordan Greenway in COVID-19 protocols. Then forward Nick Bjugstad was injured during a team practice on Tuesday. Injuries are one reason for the team’s recent slump as well as a lack of games because of postponements due to COVID-19 concerns.
The hope is the Wild find their game again which had propelled them to among the NHL’s point leaders during the first half of the league schedule.
“Things haven’t gone well as of late and we thought as a group that we needed an energy boost somehow,” Evason said. “We’re excited to get a new jump hopefully and we certainly had it (Tuesday) but practice is practice. We liked out business-like attitude the last two days and getting some new blood in there feels real good.”
“If we didn’t feel and if (Iowa Wild coach) Tim Army didn’t feel that they were ready to (move up to the NHL) – regardless of us – we were not going to (make the move).”