The Wild was back on the ice today after a day off, skating at Xcel Energy Center before flying to Philadelphia to start a three-game road trip. The start time is officially 6 p.m. central Thursday, but puck drop will be just after 6:50 due to some pre-game festivities. FSN pre-game starts at 6, KFAN pre-game is on at 6:30.
The big news at practice was actually “leaked’ by Head Coach Mike Yeo to Paul Allen on KFAN this morning. Charlie
Coyle is being moved back to the center position. He’ll start Thursday’s game centering Thomas Vanek and Jason Zucker (full lines below).
"Looking back at last year we lost Mikko, at a critical point, we got Charlie going in the middle,” Yeo told reporters after practice. “His speed and skill and size was a real factor in keeping our head above water in a tough time."
"We look at the identity of the third line, if you want to call it that...I think when you have Thomas there, and the opportunity to put Zuck there, we’re not asking those guys to go out and be a checking line, or defensive shutdown specialists,” Yeo added. "They have to be strong defensively but we want them to go out and create offense. We want three lines to go out there and create offense."
Erik Haula, who missed practice Monday with a charley horse, skated today and proclaimed him ready to go for tomorrow.
The Wild will fly to Tampa after the game Thursday, officially beginning the Wild’s “Father’s Trip” that will include not only fathers, but mentors, brothers, etc. As a veteran of a couple of those trips, the access the hockey operations department gives the guests is fantastic. They attend meetings, eat pre-game meals, the whole shabang. There will also be a team dinner with Wild owner Craig Leipold.
Wild.com and WildTV are on this entire trip and will bring you great videos and images of the Father’s Trip.
“It’s an opportunity to say thanks to some of the people who have supported us,” Yeo said. “Anyone in the State of Hockey knows it’s a big commitment when you have a kid, a sibling…We’ve all spent a lot of time in a hockey rink because of someone else. It’s a chance to see how we live on the road and bring a little extra motivation."
Yeo did mention there can be some challenges to having extra bodies on the road. A great father-son story comes from a few years back. Todd White’s father woke up to find his son, on a game day, sleeping in the bathtub, because the elder White was snoring so loud.
The Wild “Fan Trip” is also to Tampa, with most fans leaving either Thursday (and watching the Flyers game in Tampa), or Friday morning (6:20 a.m. flight for yours truly). For the first time, we will also be embedded on the Fan Trip, so make sure you follow us (@mnwild) and also check back to Wild.com for all sorts of information.