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After Short Break, Wild Hoping To Regain Its Pace

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

A shot on goal can lead to many random outcomes, all of which the Minnesota Wild are looking to create on Friday against the Winnipeg Jets. 

After losses against the Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils to open a three-game homestand, one of the objectives for the Wild against Winnipeg on Friday is simple: attempt more shots.

"We need to have a lot of shots," Jonas Brodin said. "It's hard to defend as a defender if the opposite team is shooting the puck a lot. You never know where it's going to go."

It was a point stressed during the Wild's practice on Thursday, and something Minnesota hopes it can build into the first of two divisional rivalry games on the schedule this weekend.

And while the Wild thinks an opponent like Winnipeg will certainly help raise the intensity level of the game, Head Coach Mike Yeo said the past two days were also crucial for Minnesota.

"We talk about just the opponent that we're playing tonight, and how that might help us refocus, but having a rest day and having a practice day were a couple of real good things for us," Yeo said. "It's going to be real important that we play with a lot of speed tonight."

In the Wild's victory earlier this season against the Jets, a 5-3 win at Xcel Energy Center in November, Minnesota played a vertical game, pushing the tempo and creating many opportunities off the rush.

In that game, Thomas Vanek and Erik Haula scored on breakaways, and the Wild consistently found itself getting behind Winnipeg's defense.

"When we're playing with speed, when we're strong on the puck and executing the right way, then we're a dangerous team," Yeo said. "Then we're drawing penalties, we're creating more scoring opportunities, and that should be a focal point for us tonight."

In those sequences when the Wild isn't creating off transitions, and the game gets slowed down, is when it will be important Minnesota still gets pucks to net.

"It creates secondary opportunities, it creates zone time, and it creates confusion," Jason Pominville said. "On the flipside it's tough to defend when teams are shooting, and you're always on the go, and you're always chasing the puck. It's not easy to defend for sure."

There's also a balance to keep. The Wild doesn't want to take shots at bad times and spring Winnipeg's counter attack, an area Yeo said the Jets do well, but also doesn't want to play with a passiveness to its game.

"You want to obviously try to make what you feel is the right play at the time, but the best way to score or to get an opportunity is to get it to the net," Pominville said. "You try not to pass up those shots if you have an opportunity, and get pucks at the goalie's feet, and you'll get rewarded those ways."

Here is the Wild's projected lineup:

Jason ZuckerMikko KoivuCharlie Coyle

Zach PariseMikael GranlundJason Pominville

Thomas VanekErik HaulaNino Niederreiter

Chris PorterJarret StollJustin Fontaine

Ryan SuterJared Spurgeon

Jonas BrodinMatt Dumba

Marco ScandellaNate Prosser

Devan Dubnyk

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