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Wild Hoping for Big Things from Big Line in Boston

Niederreiter, Staal, Coyle blend good mix of size and skill

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

BOSTON -- The Minnesota Wild will try to earn its first victory on the road this season when it continues its third leg of a four-game road trip against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Tuesday night.

After a tough weekend in New Jersey and New York, losing on back-to-back nights to the Devils and Islanders, the Wild will try to right the ship in a place that has been good to it over the years; Minnesota is 7-2-0 all time in Boston and 12-4-2 against the Bruins overall. 

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau changed up the lines in Brooklyn on Sunday, moving Zach Parise to a line with Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund and swapping Nino Niederreiter into Parise's old spot with Eric Staal and Charlie Coyle.

The Parise line was far and away the best line on Sunday, with Boudreau calling them a "superstar" line. Parise scored two goals and tied a career high 10 shots on goal, while both Granlund and Koivu dished out assists.

But Minnesota will need more from its other forward groups, and it hopes the Niederreiter-Staal-Coyle group can use its size to wear down opponents down low. 

All three guys on the line are at least 6-foot-2 and range from 210 to 220 pounds. All three are skilled, can skate and aren't afraid to use their size to their advantage.

"It's putting pucks in the right areas and getting in on the forecheck to get pucks back. Or, if we can, carry it in," Staal said. "And then making sure we're playing a simple game, attacking the net and shooting from everywhere. Getting looks at the net, by getting hungry in front of the goalie and using our size to our advantage."

Coyle, who will be playing in front of plenty of friends and family on Tuesday, said it will take a little bit of time to create some chemistry, but the line certainly has potential because of its size.

"It takes a little getting used to sometimes, getting the chemistry, the reps in practice," Coyle said. "There is some building we can do from last game, some things we did right, but obviously not nearly enough."

When making changes to the forward lines, Boudreau said he wanted to get back to a line with some size, similar to ones he had in both Anaheim and in Washington, a line that can cycle the puck and win battles along the walls in order to create scoring chances.

"It's a very big line. I'm hoping it's a domination below the circles kind of line. I've been used to having [Ryan] Getzlaf, [Corey] Perry and whoever, whether it be [Patrick] Maroon or not, a big line like that. This could be that," Boudreau said.

The Wild will need that line to be at its physical best on Tuesday when it plays the Bruins, typically one of the more structured, disciplined teams in the Eastern Conference. 

The Bruins signed forward David Backes during the summer to add some additional strength down the middle and a guy who can do the dirty work in front.

"They haven't swayed from the way they've played a lot of years now," Staal said. "They're going to be patient through the neutral zone. You have to be smart with decision-making in the neutral zone. We want to spend as much time as we can down in their end. If we do that, we'll get some good looks."

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