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Spurgeon Back As Wild, Torchetti Plays Canucks

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

VANCOUVER – With a new head coach, the Minnesota Wild will look to end an eight-game losing streak against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Monday.

John Torchetti, previously the head coach of the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League, took over in Minnesota in an interim role on Saturday.

While the Wild is under new leadership, the situation it finds itself in is unchanged, and the players said they know they'll be the most responsible for a potential turnaround.

"It's up to us," Jared Spurgeon said." No one else can do it on the ice, and we're just going to have to go out and play the way we know we can. We have to find that confidence that we had earlier in the year, and play with that."

Though the coaching change on Saturday was a signpost for how things have gone for the Wild — losses in 13 of its past 14 (1-11-2) — Minnesota woke up on Monday five points behind the Nashville Predators for the first wild card spot into the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a game in hand.

The Wild also trails the Colorado Avalanche for the first wild card spot by five points, and has played four fewer games. 

"For us it doesn't matter, home, away, we need to play for 60 minutes, and get one win, and build on that," Thomas Vanek said.

Though Torchetti said he wasn't sure what adjustments he would make on Sunday, the Wild did show new lines during morning skate, with every line except its top line getting shuffled.

"We've all worked on it," said Torchetti. "We're going to see what happens with the lineup from there. You have to earn your ice, and you have to earn your spots, but like I said, it's a clean slate, and everybody is in a good spot."

Defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who has missed the past three games with a deep bruise, will return to the lineup on Monday.

"Saturday it was tough to tell with an early game," Spurgeon said. "There wasn't any practice to test it out, and that was sort of a setback. I was able to skate yesterday, and I'm looking forward to going tonight."

With Spurgeon coming in, Nate Prosser will be the scratch for Minnesota, with Mike Reilly and Christian Folin as the third pairing.

The two played together in Iowa between five to eight games, according to Torchetti.

Reilly said he wasn't sure if he would be back in the lineup on this road trip with Spurgeon returning.

"But I felt like the last few games have gone pretty well, and I'm feeling a bit more comfortable," Reilly said. "I feel like I belong here, and I just have to keep playing my game, and defend well first, and go from there. It's definitely a little boost of confidence when they can put me in now that things are really getting down to crunch time."

Reilly and Folin are two of the many young players in the locker room Torchetti has coached. As much as many veteran players on the Wild are saying it's time for them to step up, Torchetti also said there is more the Wild's fresher faces can be doing.

"Our younger guys need to start having a bigger voice in the locker room," he said. "It's time for them, they've been here three years, and some of those guys have to speak up, and they have to identify that this is their team, too, and we're not going to settle to be average. We want to be better."

Here is the Wild's projected lineup:

Zach PariseMikko KoivuCharlie Coyle

Jason ZuckerMikael GranlundThomas Vanek

Nino NiederreiterErik HaulaJason Pominville

Ryan CarterJarret StollJustin Fontaine

Ryan SuterJared Spurgeon

Marco ScandellaMatt Dumba

Christian FolinMike Reilly

Devan Dubnyk

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