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Power Play Continues to Progress for Wild

Better zone entries key for Minnesota's man-advantage turnaround

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

Wild Practice Recap

Wild Practice Recap

Eric Staal, Ryan Suter, and head coach Bruce Boudreau recap practice, look forward to the Avalanche and discuss success in the power play

  • 01:52 •

ST. PAUL -- While the Minnesota Wild's penalty kill has been the NHL's best over the first month of the season, it's power play has started to come alive over the past week.

It's not unusual. With a new coaching staff and a couple of new players, the penalty kill is typically ahead of the power play early in the season.

On Friday, the Wild continued to work on perfecting its power play before it headed to Denver for an important game against Central Division rival Colorado on Saturday at the Pepsi Center.

Video: Bruce Boudreau Practice

If the Wild is to come out of the Mile High City with two points, it's likely to come with continued solid special teams play.

Minnesota has allowed just one power play goal on the season and is almost 15 percent better than the League average. It's also six percent better than the next best penalty-killing team.

The Wild has been more aggressive on the kill, according to defenseman Ryan Suter, which has been something that Minnesota hasn't been in recent years.

The aggressive kill meshes with what the Wild do best, especially its defensemen: skate.

"For guys that can skate, it's way better," Suter said. "You don't have to block as many shots, you can pressure the puck and just keep moving."

Video: Ryan Suter Practice

An aggressive kill also makes it more difficult for opposing teams to settle into the offensive zone.

"If you're not moving the puck, on the tape, flat passes, then you're not going to have success," Suter said. "So from a power play stand point, when a [killing unit] is aggressive, you have to be able to move the puck fast and execute the plays because you're not going to get a lot of time."

The goal now is for Minnesota's power play to catch up to its penalty kill. At 16.1 percent, the Wild's power play is just below the League average and is 19th in the NHL. 

But coach Bruce Boudreau said he's starting to see signs of life over the last week, despite not getting many opportunities with the man advantage.

"I think, especially with some new faces and some new schemes, it takes a little bit of time to develop some chemistry and comfort in certain plays and execution," said Wild forward Eric Staal. "It's still a work in progress, but definitely see some signs of some good things. Power plays are big nowadays; it's real key to make sure you're sharp in both of those areas. We'll keep working at it, simplify and get better."

Video: Eric Staal Practice

After struggling to get the puck into the offensive zone during the first few games, Suter said he thinks the Wild has improved in that area. It's one of the reasons why Minnesota's power play has looked better recently.

"Once we got into the zone, we were getting a lot of chances [earlier in the season]," Suter said. "For us, we gotta get into the zone clean and that will give us more chances."

Parise takes the ice

Wild forward Zach Parise skated with assistant coach Darby Hendrickson before practice began on Friday, a good sign for the veteran forward.

Parise has missed the last two games with a lower-body injury and won't play in Colorado, but could be a candidate to return on the Wild's road trip to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Ottawa late next week.

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