Following Wild games, Content Coordinator Evan Sporer will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at the Wild's 3-2 home opener victory over the St. Louis Blues at Xcel Energy Center.
It doesn't really matter where Charlie Coyle plays, he seems to be making a major impact.
Coyle started the season at center against the Avalanche, and with Tyler Graovac out on Saturday, Coyle moved over to right wing.
He bookended the first period with pretty similar plays, stealing the puck from Blues defensemen and then going to the distance on breakaways.
The first play—the Wild's first shot on goal—was met by a glove save by Jake Allen. On the second, with eight seconds remaining in the first period, Coyle jumped Carl Gunnarsson and Kevin Shattenkirk, earning himself a breakaway, and this time, finessed it over Allen's glove on the backhand. A nice adjustment on the finish after a snap shot was snared on his first try.
"That's our system right there, is not giving time up there," Coyle said. "Once they get it, go straight at them hard, and make it hard for them. It's pretty easy for a d-man to just kind of sit with the puck, wait, wait, so I was just lucky enough to go at them, and have it him my foot."
Coyle also created havoc in front of the net on his second goal, bullying his way into the blue paint and getting a piece of the a puck thrown toward the crease by Thomas Vanek.
"He played the type of game that we needed him to play against that team," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "That's a very good team, they looked very good tonight, and we needed that type of game from Charlie."
He's using both his size and speed in tandem, and the early results have been very good.
"I'm just trying to move my feet, and that kind of creates my energy, and me playing well," Coyle said. "It's our team's way of doing things well too, is moving your feet, moving the puck, and getting body position in front of the net."
Safe to say Zach Parise is off to a good start this season.
In an encore to his hat trick performance Thursday night, Parise scored on the power play Saturday (he owns both of the Wild's two power play goals this season) from the same spot in the right circle where he can be so effective. It was a goal-scorer's bounce: The puck ticked off the stick of Jay Bouwmeester, arching over Allen and into the net. It might have even been a pass Parise was directing toward the net with Jason Pominville parked in front, but either way, the puck found its way into the goal.
Parise also seems like he wins the footrace to every loose pick. His motor is running on high coming out of the gate.
Two games, two power play goals for the Minnesota Wild.
The sequence leading up to the Wild's power play goal on Saturday was very similar to the goal Minnesota scored on Thursday. Good puck movement, finding Mikko Koivu in the middle of the zone to break up the cadence of the penalty kill, and then working it around to get it to Parise at his half-wall spot.
Parise said the key to the Wild's power play goal on Thursday was continuity in the zone, and knowing where each other is positioned. Ryan Suter put the puck right on Parise's tape, allowing him to take advantage of open space and forcing Bouwmeester to reach with his stick.
"It's not perfect, but we’re getting there. It's getting better," Parise said. "It's knowing outs, and where guys are, and where guys are supposed to be, and what your options are. We're learning, and guys are getting better in their spots."
After morning skate, Devan Dubnyk said it would be important for him to track the puck well with the big bodies the Blues send to the front. Dubnyk did just that, fighting through screens and making 30 saves to help backstop the Wild to a win. In the second period, with Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Steen both whacking at loose pucks from in tight, Dubnyk stood tall, grounded in his crease and task to a few St. Louis opportunities.
In the third period, Dubnyk made a number of tough saves with the Blues on a man-advantage playing with a lot of urgency. He made 12 saves in all in the third period, and was a rock as the Wild's last line of defense.
"We know what it feels like to win, and what we have to do, and that doesn't always mean go out and outshoot the other team 15-0 in the third period," Dubnyk said. "That's great if you can do it, but it doesn't always work that way, especially with a quality team across the way. Sometimes that's the way the game goes, and we were able to get a two-goal lead so we were able to afford it."
A nice video montage in the first period for former Wild forward Kyle Brodziak, now a member of the Blues. It came just after the under-eight timeout, and was capped off by a loud applause from the 19,096 Wild fans attending the home opener. Mikko Koivu was very complimentary of Brodziak this morning, and it was a nice moment for a player who spent six seasons in a Wild sweater.
Speaking of the crowd, they were treated to a very cool player introduction prior to puck drop, which featured a video sharing fans' different favorite Wild experience, historic moments in the franchises history, and everything and anything in between.