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Torchetti to (again) scratch Vanek, who’s not ‘at the level I think he can play at’

Thomas Vanek, Brandon Dubinsky

Minnesota Wild’s Thomas Vanek, of Austria, right, works for the puck against Columbus Blue Jackets’ Brandon Dubinsky during the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)


Thomas Vanek can’t get a game.

Prior to Tuesday’s Wild-Kings game in Minnesota -- a huge one for the Wild’s playoff chances -- Vanek was out getting extra work following the morning skate, a sure indication he’d be made a healthy scratch for a third straight time tonight.

And if the morning skate wasn’t enough of a telltale sign, there was what interim head coach John Torchetti said afterward.

Vanek was parked after Minnesota’s 7-4 loss to New Jersey on Mar. 17, a game in which the veteran went goalless -- for the 10th straight contest -- and finished with a minus-2 rating in just 13:55 of ice time.

The Wild have played twice since then, and won both -- shootout victories over the ‘Canes and ‘Hawks. So it makes sense Torchetti would keep the winning lineup intact, and keep Vanek in the press box.

What doesn’t make sense, however, is Vanek’s overall situation.

This is the second coach that’s healthy scratched him this season, as ex-Wild bench boss Mike Yeo did it back in February. And while Vanek’s overall numbers on the season aren’t that bad -- 18 goals and 41 points in 70 games -- this trend of scratches has to be alarming, especially since he’s got one more year on a deal that pays $6.5 million annually.

The Wild head into tonight sitting one point back of Colorado for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. The Avs are off until Thursday, when they’ll host the Flyers.