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Rink Report: Wild Reps React to All-Star Selections

Schedule picks up before All-Star break, Staal producing despite rotating right wings

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Wild will be well represented at the NHL All-Star Game later this month in Los Angeles as defenseman Ryan Suter and goaltender Devan Dubnyk were named to the Central Division team on Tuesday.

The Wild clinched the best points percentage in the division over the weekend, but was coach Bruce Boudreau was officially named the Central's head coach as well.

"It's an honor," Dubnyk said. "It was a lot of fun last year. Obviously, you want to keep putting yourself in a position that you get a chance to go."

Video: Devan Dubnyk on All-Star Game selection

Dubnyk capped a whirlwind year last year when he was named to his first All-Star appearance in Nashville, an experience that was made greater by the fact he got to share it with his family.

While the 3-on-3 format was well received by fans, it's something that makes the job more difficult for a goaltender.

"It's not goalie friendly, but it's more about enjoying the event," Dubnyk said. "It'll be fun to have [Suter] to enjoy it with and Bruce as well."

For Suter, who was the Wild's representative at the game two years ago, it will be his third trip to the All-Star Game. The defenseman enters the day Tuesday tied for the League lead in plus/minus (plus-24) and second in time on ice (27:16). 

"I think it has a lot to do with our team," Suter said. "Our team is playing well and were able to go represent our team there."

Suter said he is looking forward to sharing the trip with his wife, Becky, and his three children, especially his son Brooks, who is often seen around the dressing room after games.

Brooks has seen his dad play in each of his previous two appearances, but now, at age 6, is getting to be old enough to appreciate it.

The 3-on-3 format, which was first instituted last season, will be a new experience for Suter, who said he didn't get to watch the game last year.

"That should be fun," he said. "I heard it was a lot of fun. It'll be interesting, exciting for sure."

Video: Ryan Suter on All-Star Game selection

Despite winning eight division titles in nine years as a head coach, it will be Boudreau's first time being a head coach in the All-Star Game. After several near misses in his career, Boudreau will get a chance to head back to Los Angeles to lead the Central Division stars.

He is the first head coach in team history to be named to the All-Star Game.

"I think it's going to be great," Boudreau said. "Having not experienced it as this level, I think it'll be a fun time. I'm looking forward to it."

A busy stretch

Coming off a three-in-four stretch on the West Coast, the Wild has three days to prepare for the Montreal Canadiens at Xcel Energy Center, a game that will begin another stretch of three games in four nights. 

After that, the Wild will play a game every other day until the All-Star break begins on Jan. 27.

That makes days like Tuesday, when the Wild held a spirited and lengthy practice, quite valuable.

"Every practice has gotta be productive," Boudreau said. "We don't want to practice just for the sake of practicing, just because it's a day that, 'Hey, you've gotta come in to work.' We don't want that. We want every practice to be meaningful. We gotta make sure we get better every day."

After a team day off on Monday, Boudreau said it's likely that a handful of guys will be held off the ice on Wednesday prior to Thursday's game. 

"We know, starting Thursday, we've got nine games in 15 days before the All-Star break," Boudreau said. "We've also got 20 games in 35 days starting March 1. We're going to have to, at some point, be conscientious of how much practice everybody needs and how much rest every body needs because rest is a weapon as well."

The right stuff

While the line of Jason Zucker, Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund has remained almost untouched for the last month or so, there has been little consistency from a night-to-night basis on the right side of Zach Parise and Eric Staal.

Some nights, it's been Jason Pominville, others Jordan Schroeder. Even Chris Stewart has been moved up on occasion to eat minutes there.

Charlie Coyle has been a popular choice during stretches this season and is likely going to see more time there in the immediate future.

Despite the revolving door of players moving in and out of that spot, it hasn't hindered the production of Staal, who has been perhaps the most consistent Wild forward this season.

"Game-by-game sometimes, things change and you still try and find balance," Staal said. "Certain nights and certain games, some guys are going better than others."

No matter who it's been, each has looked good in stretches. Boudreau said that's likely because of how well Staal has played there.

"We've used a lot of different right wingers, but maybe the fit is, when Eric and Zach are going, it doesn't matter," Boudreau said. "Charlie is a pretty good player too. I think it's something we've looked at all year. If all three are going, that's a pretty good line."

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