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Rink Report: Coyle on the Verge of History

Wild forward will tie team record for consecutive games played Tuesday against the Jets

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

WINNIPEG -- Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle will make a bit of team history on Tuesday when the Wild plays the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre.

The game against the Jets will mark Coyle's 283rd consecutive contest, which ties Antti Laaksonen's franchise record. 

While scoring is cyclical for all players, being a consistent presence in the lineup on a nightly basis like Coyle has is something he says he's proud of. 

"You always want to be there and play and be there for your teammates," Coyle said. "And you want to be healthy and prolong your career. The healthier you are, the more chance you have of doing that. It's just my goal to take care of my body and take care of myself off the ice, do the right things."

In a sport like hockey, where injury and illness isn't a matter of "if," but "when," players are often gutting it out through any number of issues. That's certainly been the case for Coyle, who once played an entire playoff series with two separated shoulders. 

A lower-body injury sustained last month has hampered him a bit of late, but not enough to keep him off the ice. 

"Our training staff does a great job with all of us to get us back out there, take care of any nicks or pains or anything like that. We owe a lot to them," Coyle said. "I don't think there's a secret, I think you just pound it into your head. No one is ever really 100 percent, there's always something going on. And we have guys that do that every single night, night in night out, it's the same thing.

"Bottom line is, if you're going to play, then you aren't hurt and you have to put that in your head. No matter what's going on, if you're playing, you're out there, put it behind you and do what's necessary for the team, do what you have to do. I think that's something I've tried to do and it's something you see every day from our leaders and all the other guys on the team. It's something that trickles down. It's cool to see other guys do that and I just try to follow suit."

Moving to the middle?

If Monday's practice at MTS Centre is any indication, Coyle will play game No. 283 at center. 

Coyle has played on the wing all season but has played plenty of pivot over the course of his NHL career, practiced between Nino Niederreiter and Jason Pominville.

"I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "For Charlie, just to get his legs moving more as a big guy ... He's a big guy, and you do a lot more skating when you're in the middle."

Maintenance for Mikko

One of the reasons Boudreau tinkered with Coyle at center was because Mikko Koivu was not on the ice for practice. No worries there, however, as Boudreau said it was simply a maintenance day for the team captain.

In his stead, Jordan Schroeder skated between Mikael Granlund and Jason Zucker on what might be the hottest line in the NHL right now.

"That line has just been crazy," Boudreau said. "Both offensive and defensively, if you look at clips just from [Saturday] night's game, defensively, they were in perfect spots all the time. And they were able to finish offensively. But it is their defense that's made them all a plus-30."

Scouting the Jets

The Winnipeg Jets are coming off one of their most disappointing losses of the season, a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday in Denver.

Before that, the Jets were red-hot in divisional play, having won eight-straight games against the Central dating back to the beginning of December. Winnipeg's last loss inside the division before Saturday was Nov. 23 in St. Paul, when the Wild defeated the Jets 3-1.

Mark Scheifele leads the Jets with 25 goals and 53 points in 52 games this season. Rookie Patrik Laine has also been good, chipping in 23 goals in 47 games. 

Goaltender Andrej Pavelec has started seven of the past eight games since being recalled from Manitoba of the American Hockey League. He is 4-3-0 during that stretch, with a 3.34 goals-against average and a .895 save percentage.

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