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Wild wants Coyle to be more selfish ... on the ice

Forward scored fifth goal of season Tuesday night in Columbus

by Dan Myers @DanMyers /

ST. PAUL -- Wild forward Charlie Coyle is one heck of a nice guy.

But at 6-foot-3 and 220 lbs., and with the ability to shoot and skate like the wind, coach Bruce Boudreau wants his 25-year-old forward to be a little more selfish.

At least on the ice.

"He's a tremendous person," Boudreau said. "But you want him to be a selfish person when he plays. I think if he got three, four or five shots on goal per game, you'd find that he'd be a 30-goal scorer."

The numbers back that up.

Coyle has never been a high-volume shot guy. His career high came last season, when he put 159 shots on goal in 82 games (1.93 shots per game). 

His shooting percentage a year ago of 11.3 percent was nearly identical to his career average of 11.4. Extrapolate that number combined with Boudreau's desire of at least three shots per game, and you'd have a guy scoring 29.83 goals per season.

"That's what I gotta do, even if there's other guys there," Coyle said. "If I'm below those dots, I've gotta rip it."

With nearly 400 NHL games under his belt, Coyle's talent has been tantalizing. He scored a career-best 21 goals two seasons ago then a career-high 56 points last season. 

A broken leg sustained in the third game this season knocked him from the lineup for several weeks, and it's been a challenge to get back into a rhythm.

After scoring two goals in a span of five games after Thanksgiving, Coyle went 12 games without a goal. Then he scored in back-to-back games before going eight more games without lighting the lamp.

Tuesday in Columbus, Coyle showed just how lethal his shot can be, cruising down the left-wing wall and snapping a laser past Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky inside the far-side post, giving the Wild a brief 2-1 lead midway through the third period.

Video: MIN@CBJ: Coyle buries nifty wrist shot on the rush

Coyle could have deferred to Chris Stewart, fresh out of the penalty box and on the rush with him. But he chose to keep it himself and he was rewarded.

It's something the Wild want him to do more of.

"I've been told that since I was 12," Coyle said. "Just be more selfish, be more selfish. It's something I've gotta do, I'm still learning. I really just have to do it, shoot more. I work on my shot a lot, now I've gotta do it."

Maintenance day for Staal

Eric Staal did not join the Wild for practice at TRIA Rink at Treasure Island Center on Wednesday. The reason was simple.

"He never got a day off at the All-Star Game and all the stuff and activities," Boudreau said. "Today, I thought, was a good day to give him a day off."

Niederreiter practices with group

With no Staal, Nino Niederreiter wore a red practice jersey on a line with Coyle and Zach Parise.

It's a good sign for Niederreiter, who has been skating on his own recently and with skating coach Andy Ness. Wednesday marked his first time on the ice with teammates and, according to Boudreau, he looked good.

"Nino looks fine. He's coming along good," Boudreau said. "We'll have a good practice tomorrow and see how he feels after it, then we'll make a game-time decision on Friday."

Niederreiter hasn't played since a Jan. 6 game at Colorado, his second game back after missing five games prior because of a lower-body injury sustained in Florida against the Panthers on Dec. 22.

"I felt pretty good and I'm just excited to be back," Niederreiter said. "Skating by myself and with Andy Ness, it feels a little lonely, so it's definitely great to have some guys out there and enjoy hockey again."

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