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Wild Hopes To Carry Anaheim Finish To Columbus

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

There are plenty of ulterior storylines facing the Wild tonight, playing a winless Columbus Blue Jackets team, and one with a new coach.

That's why, as always, the Wild is keeping the focus on itself. 

"It's going to be a tough game," Jonas Brodin said. "They just fired their coach, and they got a new coach, so they're going to come out hard and work a lot. We have to be ready from the start, and just play our game, and don't focus on them."

Part of the focus will be on replicating what Minnesota did in the second and third periods against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, which saw the Wild outshoot the Ducks 29-13, and out-attempt Anaheim 51-25 over the final 40 minutes.

"Most of all it was our execution and the pace that we played with," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "What we were doing with pucks, where we were putting them, making their defensemen turn and either deal with our speed on the outside, or turn and deal with our speed on the forecheck."

At the forefront of that stretch was the line of Mikko Koivu, Jason Zucker, and Nino Niederreiter. Niederreiter scored the Wild's lone goal against Anaheim.

"We definitely had a really good game, but we know we can still bring it to the next level," Niederreiter said. "We had some Grade-A chances, and we didn't put them in, so we have to make sure we sharpen up on scoring goals."

The other element of playing against the Blue Jackets is not knowing exactly what Columbus will bring. This is the first game under new Head Coach John Tortorella a day after he was hired for the job.

"We don't know what to expect from them tonight," Niederreiter said. "They have a new coach, and the biggest thing is we have to focus on is us. We have to sharpen up all the little details. We have to focus on getting better and better each game."

The Wild will be back on home ice for the second time this season in its sixth game after finishing a three-game road trip last week.

"It was weird even thinking about that this morning," Yeo said. "It will be good for us to get back in front of our fans, and hopefully give us a chance to build a little momentum."

Yeo also said it will be nice to begin to get into a rhythm, both individually- and team-wise, with three upcoming games in four nights, and four games in six.

"Early in the year, it's a little bit tougher dealing with it," Yeo said. "We can continue to do things in practice, but really when you get into the games that’s how you build your game."

The only minor tweak to the Wild's lineup on Thursday is defenseman Matt Dumba will be back on a pairing with Jonas Brodin, and Marco Scandella will be back with Christian Folin.

"For the first few shifts, anyways, we'll see how it goes," Yeo said. "This is an unfinished product as far as how we're going to utilize those guys."

Those pairings are how the Wild played throughout preseason and to start the regular season, so chemistry won't be an issue.

"I'm really comfortable (with Dumba)," Brodin said. "We played a couple of games together, and it's getting better every game we play."

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 ScandellaChristian Folin

Devan Dubnyk

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