The Minnesota Wild needs to stop the bleeding of this recent stretch in which the team has gone 3-4-3 over its last 10 games. With the Phoenix Coyotes gaining on the Wild for the top wild card spot, Saturday night's game between the two clubs really couldn't be bigger.
With that in mind, Wild coach Mike Yeo has decided to make Dany Heatley a healthy scratch for the first time in the big forward's career. Ouch.
Dany Heatley will be a healthy scratch for what I believe is the first time in his career #mnwild— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) March 29, 2014
Heatley has not been good this year with just 27 points through 74 games this season. He's had two points, both assists in the team's 13 games in the month of March. As a result, his ice time has been continually dwindling.
Making matters worse for Heatley, he is in a contract year. At 33, he should still have some good hockey in him, but it hasn't been there this season. The former two-time 50-goal man probably isn't going to be as highly sought after on the open market.
What makes scratching Heatley particularly surprising is how much the Wild have struggled to score this year. At one point, Heatley was one of the game's elite goal scorers. To not make him available for a crucial game against a tough defensive team shows just how far Heatley has fallen in recent years.
Head coach Mike Yeo explained before the game that Heatley would be called upon again at some point.
Yeo on scratching Heatley: "we're not done with him. We're going to need him again." #mnwild— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) March 29, 2014
The Wild forward seems to be taking it in stride and is at least saying all the right things.
Heatley on 1st-ever scratch: "it's not a good feeling, but at the same time, I'll stay ready and be ready if they need me again." #mnwild— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) March 29, 2014
You'd have to think Heatley has something more in the tank, but this season has been by far Heatley's worst. Saturday night, it reaches a new low.