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Posted On Sunday, 11.03.2013 / 9:30 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Devils' Volchenkov scratched; Merrill injured

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New Jersey Devils were without defenseman Anton Volchenkov against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday night due to a lower-body injury.

Volchenkov has three assists and is a minus-2 in 13 games this season.

In his place, the Devils inserted Jon Merrill, a rookie making his NHL debut. A second-round pick of the Devils (No. 38) in the 2010 NHL Draft, Merrill is considered one of the organization's top prospects.

But less than five minutes into his NHL debut, Merrill raced Wild forward Torrey Mitchell into the corner to gather a loose puck when he appeared to lose an edge, smashing hard into the boards. Merrill appeared cut above the eye and needed assistance from two teammates when leaving the ice. The Devils announced at the start of the third period that Merrill suffered lacerations and he did not return to the game.

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Posted On Sunday, 11.03.2013 / 2:07 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Wild's Parise to face Devils for first time

ST. PAUL, Minn. — In what seems like a weekly ritual for at least one member of the Minnesota Wild, another prominent player will play against his former team. This time it's Zach Parise going against the New Jersey Devils.

After Parise signed with the Wild on July 4, 2012, Minnesota and New Jersey did not play during the lockout-shortened season. That means Parise will get his first crack against a number of former friends and teammates Sunday when the Wild host the Devils at Xcel Energy Center.

"It'll be a lot of fun," Parise said. "It'll be a little different playing against those guys, knowing all of them and everything. Playing against them for the first time will be different, but I'm looking forward to it. A little nervous, but I'm looking forward to it."

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Posted On Friday, 11.01.2013 / 2:44 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Wild get four back from injury to face Canadiens

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild will get back four players for their game Friday against the Montreal Canadiens at Xcel Energy Center.

Perhaps the most notable is forward Charlie Coyle, who sustained a knee injury Oct. 5 and has missed 11 games. Coyle was the Wild's second-line center when he went down but returns Friday as the team's top centerman, splitting up Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise for the first time since Parise signed with the Wild two summers ago.

"It's really nice just to be back with the guys again, able to go on road trips and not being left behind here and working out by myself," Coyle said. "I don't really care what line I'm on, I'm just happy to be back on the ice helping our team win."

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Posted On Monday, 10.28.2013 / 2:07 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Pominville helps get Wild's second line going

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Unfortunate circumstances have driven the Minnesota Wild to try a number of different second-line combinations during the early part of the season.

Charlie Coyle started the year as the second-line center with Mikael Granlund playing a wing. An injury to Coyle in the team's second game pushed Granlund to the middle, his natural position, but finding him consistent wings has been a problem. Dany Heatley has played a lot of left wing with Granlund, but is off to the slowest start of his career. In need of a spark, third-line left wing Matt Cooke spent some time with the second group. Nino Niederreiter has bounced between all of the Wild's top-three lines.

Finally, it seems Wild coach Mike Yeo has found a combo with some chemistry by moving veteran right wing Jason Pominville to the second line.

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Posted On Thursday, 10.24.2013 / 1:25 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Injuries a big part of early season for Wild, Hurricanes

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A number of injures on the blue line have forced the Minnesota Wild to shuffle their defensive pairs heading into their game Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes at Xcel Energy Center.

The team announced Wednesday that Jonas Brodin, hit in the face by a dump-in attempt by Gabriel Bourque during a game Tuesday against the Nashville Predators, sustained a broken cheekbone on the play. He will not play against Carolina, but Wild coach Mike Yeo indicated Brodin could be back sooner than initially expected.

"I would suspect we could get him back on the ice [Friday] and hopefully back in the lineup soon," Yeo said.

Brodin, who is tied for the NHL lead among defensemen with three goals, also averages more than 24 minutes of ice time per game. His spot on the Wild's top pairing with Ryan Suter will fall to Jared Spurgeon, who held that spot for the first handful of games last season before Brodin established himself as one of the League's best young defensemen.

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Posted On Thursday, 10.24.2013 / 12:52 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Wild's Coyle takes part in morning skate

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild center Charlie Coyle, out since Oct. 5 with a sprained knee, took part in his first morning skate since the injury Thursday as the Wild prepared for their game against the Carolina Hurricanes at Xcel Energy Center.

Wild coach Mike Yeo said Coyle skating with the team Thursday was another positive step in Coyle's rehabilitation of the injury sustained against the Anaheim Ducks in Minnesota's second game of the season.

"It's a good first step. I don't think he's too far away," Yeo said. "We've held our head above water with him out, but we haven't exactly dominated this last little stretch. But that's a big loss for us and we're anxious to get him back."


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Posted On Tuesday, 10.22.2013 / 2:07 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Cullen returns home for Predators against Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Nashville Predators center Matt Cullen returns home for the first time since leaving the Minnesota Wild last summer when the Predators play the Wild Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center.

Cullen, a Moorhead, Minn. native, spent the last three seasons with the Wild, scoring 33 goals and 101 points in 193 games.

The Wild and Predators played two weeks ago in Nashville, so playing against his former teammates won't be something new. But this is Cullen's first trip to St. Paul as an opponent since Oct. 24, 2009 when Cullen skated for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Back then, Cullen hadn't yet become a fan favorite in Minnesota.

"It was funny walking past the doors [to the Wild locker room]," Cullen said. "It's kind of nice having already played one time, it helped quite a bit. But to be on the ice here, this building, on the other bench, it will be a strange feeling."

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Posted On Saturday, 10.12.2013 / 1:42 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Veteran backups to play in goal for Stars, Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Both the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars will start their veteran backups in goal Saturday when the new Central Division rivals play at Xcel Energy Center.

Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen left Friday night's game against the Winnipeg Jets early in the second period, stopping all 21 shots he faced to that point. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said the injury is day-to-day.

With Lehtonen unavailable, the Stars called up Jack Campbell from the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League. He will back up Dan Ellis tonight against the Wild.

"Encouraging that [Lehtonen] could be back at practice [Sunday]," Ruff said.

Ellis made his first appearance of the season Friday against the Jets and allowed one goal on 23 shots.

Minnesota will go with its own backup goaltender for the second straight game in Josh Harding. Niklas Backstrom, injured Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators, practiced Friday and took part in the morning skate Saturday, but is still unavailable. He is expected to join the Wild on a seven-day, four-game Eastern Conference road trip starting Monday at the Buffalo Sabres.

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Posted On Thursday, 10.10.2013 / 1:55 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Wild juggle lines in search of offense, balance

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- It's only a three-game sample size, but it's enough for Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo to know his team needs more offense.

Through three games, the Wild have scored just seven goals -- including only two playing 5-on-5. With the top-line of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville generating a vast majority of the team's quality chances, Yeo has decided to move some parts around in the hopes of balancing his lineup and getting his second line going offensively as his team hosts the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.

The most prominent change comes on that top line, where right wing Pominville has been moved to the second line and replaced with Nino Niederreiter.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.05.2013 / 2:43 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Ducks hope to move on after 6-1 loss

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Needless to say, the Anaheim Ducks season opening game Wednesday against the Colorado Avalanche left a lot to be desired for their coach Bruce Boudreau.

Not only did the Ducks lose big 6-1 to the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center, but Boudreau was the target of an angry Patrick Roy, the Colorado coach who appeared to lose his cool in the closing seconds of the contest.

The result alone left a bad taste in Boudreau's mouth, and sitting on it for the last two days hasn't helped much.

"Certainly, we are looking forward to getting back on the ice," Boudreau said. "If we could have played the next morning, I'm sure the guys would have wanted to."

As much as the Ducks would probably like to forget the result of Wednesday's blowout, Boudreau said it's important that they don't dismiss everything from the season-opening loss.

"You put it behind you in a way," Boudreau said. "In the other way, you want to remember it and hope it doesn't happen again."

Veteran Ducks forward Saku Koivu said there was plenty to take from the loss to the Avalanche, but kept the loss in perspective. After all, there are still 81 games left in the regular season.

"Those few first games, you're paying more attention because you've been off a long time," Koivu said. "But there are games in midseason you might lose [like that] if you play bad. You have to turn the page and get ready for the next one.

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