So Minnesota caps off a decrepit road trip by beating Colorado 2-1 in a shootout, which continued the trend of the inability to do a number of things: draw power plays, kill penalties, and score goals on the road. Head Coach Mike Yeo classified last night's victory against Colorado, a team which despite its gaudy records when leading after certain points is bound to regress, a real "character win".
Which, I think, was said about the last time Minnesota played Colorado, where they lost in the shootout. That point ended a three game losing streak, just like this win ended a stretch where they lost 3 of the last 4 games, including the last three road games.
Categorizing this as a character win seems like motivational phrasing, which in a sense is no different than the finger pointing at everything but the team's penalty kill in San Jose. The bottom line is the warm and fuzzy feelings associated with this last victory isn't worth buffalo sh*t on a nickel if this team doesn't use it as a spring board to get their game together.
Obviously the Mikael Granlund concussion debacle has thrown a wrench into the best laid plans, but the often senseless line juggling which has ensued does more harm. So after neutering three lines by playing musical chairs which position flexibility instead of finding a solution for JUST ONE OF THEM it looks like Mike Yeo has come to the conclusion that we saw had been working before; leave Charlie Coyle on the the top line, and that Jason Pominville's presence on the second line allows all parties involved to just keep doing what they do best; Pominville shoots, Neiderreiter digs out pucks and goes to the net, and center du jour (which is now Erik Haula, who brings many of the same qualities Granlund brought to the line) just gets people the puck.
Leave Dany Heatley on the fourth line. No more need for kid gloves or worrying about ego- he simply isn't an NHL-caliber player anymore in almost every facet. With 43 games now in the books, the time to tinker with line combinations and placate 7.5 million is over. Does it look good that there is that much money playing 8-10 minutes a night? No, but it looks better than trying to make that game that goes with that player work in a Top-6 or even Top-9 role.
Injuries happen, I get it; but the loss of the team's momentum is also self-inflicted too. And amazingly, despite what seems like a doldrum (which is better that it happens now than in March), the underlying numbers show that Minnesota's still doing pretty well.