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Wild Focusing On Containing Coyotes Pace

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild



The wait is over for the Wild. After playing in its home opener on Saturday, an energetic, intense game against a division rival in the St. Louis Blues, Minnesota is back in game-action Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes.

Head Coach Mike Yeo said after the 3-2 victory against St. Louis on Saturday he wanted to use the next four days and three practices to tighten up certain areas of the Wild's game. Playing against an up-tempo Coyotes team, with such a long break between games, it's imperative, Yeo said, the Wild don't wait to get going.

"It's hard to replicate the battle level and the pace (in practice)," Yeo said. "With that, having to execute at that speed, you do your best, you do what you can to try to practice hard, and try to practice fast.

"But as much as you do that, it's still another level once the puck drops, and especially the work ethic the team we're playing tonight is playing with, and the pace they're playing with. It's going to be interesting how quickly we can get out of the gate, and how quickly we can get to our game."

Arizona defeated the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday 4-0 behind the first career hat trick for 20-year-old rookie forward Anthony Duclair, and 37 saves from Mike Smith.

"They've injected some youth, but it's not just youth, they have some high-skilled players," Yeo said. "Those guys have been a big factor creating offense for them. As much as anything else, they're just a very strong commitment to their game, and very disciplined in their game."

So while the Wild has had success against Arizona of late, both on a team (winning its past five games against the Coyotes) and some individual levels, the talk going into the game on Thursday was to be prepared for a fast, structured, skilled opponent.

"Sometimes you have that, for whatever reason, there are some teams you feel like you play well against, and some buildings you feel like you play well in, and some buildings you feel like you don't," said Zach Parise, who has scored four goals in his past four games against the Coyotes, and, dating back to his time in New Jersey, has an 11-game points streak against Arizona. "For whatever reason I have felt good playing in this rink the last couple of years. It can play tricks with your mind sometimes, but you feel good at least knowing you've done well in a building before."

Parise said he watched video of the Coyotes this morning and was able to glean a few things.

"They look fast," he said. "They use the wall a lot; they chip the puck out of the zone and chase it down a lot. They have a lot of speed. We're going to have to make sure that we're ready for that, and we feel like we can play a pretty fast game, too."

Here are the Wild's projected lines:

Jason ZuckerMikko KoivuNino Niederreiter

Zach PariseMikael GranlundJason Pominville

Thomas VanekCharlie CoyleJustin Fontaine

Chris PorterErik HaulaRyan Carter

Ryan SuterJared Spurgeon

Jonas BrodinMatt Dumba

Marco ScandellaNate Prosser

Devan Dubnyk

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