Posts Tagged ‘charlie coyle’

Despite notching an assist on the Wild’s only goal of the game last night, the 20-year old Finn who was styled a Wunderkind entering this year has generally looked like he could not shoot his way out of a paper bag. Mikael Granlund has 16 shots on goal in 12 games this year, just 1.33 per game, while his CorsiOn is a capital-D Dreadful -28.60, which ranks ninth-lowest in the league among forwards with more than five games played. While he has looked better the last couple games and might finally be developing some chemistry with fellow member of the -20 corsi club, Devin Setoguchi, Granlund has just looked overmatched and overwhelmed to me this year.

Meanwhile, fellow rookie Charlie Coyle has found himself in the enviable position of skating alongside Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise beginning with just the second game of his career. Coyle has not dented the scoresheet yet and actually has less shots per game than Granlund, just 6 SOG in 5 GP (1.2 shots per game.) Coyle is one of just five Wild forwards with a positive CorsiOn this year (Koivu, Parise, Coyle, Brodziak, Clutterbuck.) Both are getting difficult minutes, with Coyle’s QoC number at a hefty 1.15 and Granlund’s at 0.80. But one thing Coyle is doing better than Granlund is drawing penalties: 3.1 drawn per 60 minutes vs 1.0 taken for Charlie, 0.4 drawn, 0.8 taken per 60 for Mikael.

Like a lot of folks, coming into this season I thought Granlund wouldn’t have much trouble adapting to the NHL game–he had played at a high level in one of the toughest European leagues for several years, and showed promise in the AHL before getting injured. Now I’m wondering what factors may be contributing to his poor start to his Minnesota career. The rinks are a different size in the SM-liiga, bigger than the NHL but smaller than Olympic size if my research is correct…but Granlund played a number of games with Houston during the lockout so that’s probably not it. I’m starting to wonder if his role as a playmaker and his lack of size and defensive skill aren’t a great match in Mike Yeo’s system. While Coyle gets to skate with All-Stars and his direction is pretty much, “hey kid, shoot the puck when they pass it to you,” Granlund is responsible for setting up guys and creating chances, and thinking three moves ahead in the NHL chess game has got to be tougher than the AHL or the liiga. Plus, Coyle has gotten his assignment and stuck with it, while Granlund has skated a few games with Cullen, a couple with Bouchard, and even one with Konopka. The constant for 64 has been Setoguchi, who has had an equally dreadful season start though he has shown signs of life lately. I don’t really want to get into a chicken v. egg argument, but Granlund and Setoguchi have been tied together for the first quarter of the season and one figures that if Yeo was going to split them up, he would have done so by now.

I feel like I’ve written a lot about line combos the last few weeks, and my reaction has been…alright yeah, I guess I like that. Sure, that could work too. At the risk of being a broken record, I do like the newest iteration of the Wild’s second line with Dany Heatley rejoining Setoguchi with Granlund as the pivot. Heatley and Gooch played together in San Jose, and again last year on the Wild’s top line. They do seem to have some good chemistry, and let’s face it, Heatley hasn’t resembled a first-liner for three years. I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that his place on the team is on the second unit for a while, so we’ll see how he reacts.

I am trying to remain patient with this team, and Setoguchi in particular, but one can only watch so many games where the team goes 10-minutes at a stretch without putting a shot on goal before wondering when it’s time to give guys like Jason Zucker a shot. We may already be seeing signs of this, as Bouchard and his expiring contract were a healthy scratch last night against the Canucks…you can only roll the dice so many times before you have to get new dice.

Shake ‘em up, shake ‘em up, shake ‘em up, shake ‘em. Mike Yeo is playing the lineup card like Ice Cube plays craps. He put Mikael Granlund and Devin Setoguchi on the fourth line with Zenon Konopka earlier this week at Phoenix, and while they seemed to respond to his “message,” the team still lost. Now, Yeo is moving Dany Heatley off the top line, to the second line with Bouchard and Matt Cullen, while Charlie Coyle will get time with Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise versus the Canucks. I think this is less of story than it seems to be on its face…Heatley has not played like a top-liner in years, and if Coyle is the guy they want to see next to Koivu and Parise, might as well get him started earlier. The team is floundering so there’s not a lot to lose. Between the line changes and the trade with the Rangers, I like the club’s approach that the status is definitely not quo–they signed Parise and Suter to build a playoff-worthy team and if players aren’t producing, they need to know that their lineup spot is not safe (unless your name is Matt Cullen…)

  •  Cue the sad trombone…the team’s only two players with a positive CorsiOn are Cal Clutterbuck (9.02) and Kyle Brodziak (2.56), and their on-ice Sh% are sub-4%. Womp womp. I honestly think that if Brodziak was having a better year, he may get a look at the 2C spot, but his numbers from the last half-dozen games have been capital-t Terrible.
  •  I do like what my eye has seen from Jonas Brodin so far, and he’s been playing well enough to keep his top-line assignment. Yeo trusts him enough to send him out for DZ-faceoffs (56.9% of the time he’s been deployed in the Wild zone.) He’s also been logging the sheer quantity of minutes that will help him develop, and even a couple on the man advantage.
  •  Mikael Granlund is just lost out there. I can’t really figure it out, he played against top competition in the SM-liiga and tore it up over there, and then looked fine in the AHL during the lockout. Granlund’s CorsiRelQoC is still just a shade under 1.0, so he is getting tested, but he is flunking that test. Mike Russo has written that Granlund may be the “odd man out” with the new line combos, so we might see him as a healthy scratch in the near future. Which would be a shame, but perhaps the kid just needs a little time to get himself together. But he won’t benefit from playing bottom-six minutes alongside Konopka or Rupp, and sending him back to Houston may be the wrong move too, so I sure hope he gets it figured out.
  •  I wonder if Ryan Suter and Shea Weber call each other late at night after practice, “No I miss YOU more,” …”No I miss YOU more,” “No I miss YOU more.”

//