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Minnesota Finding Offense in Unlikely Places

Through eight games, every Minnesota skater has at least one point

by Devin Lowe /

Wild on Balanced Scoring

Wild on Balanced Scoring

Mikael Granlund and Coach Bruce Boudreau talk about the balanced scoring in the Wild lineup following practice at Xcel Energy Center

  • 01:23 •

If Wild fans were asked to guess who would lead the team in scoring eight games into the season, many might've predicted it'd be Mikko Koivu or Zach Parise.

And they'd be wrong.

"He's a really good player," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau of Ryan Suter, whose nine points in eight games are the most of any player on the roster. "You look at any team in the league, they have that really good player. It's [Drew] Doughty in L.A., [Duncan] Keith in Chicago. These guys are good players, and [Suter] is in that category."

With three goals thus far, Suter is on pace to shatter his goals total of eight last year, when he set a new career high in points with 51. But he's just one of the 19 players on Minnesota's active roster with a tally in the points column.

Video: MIN@BUF: Suter beats Nilsson through traffic

In Thursday's game against Buffalo, defenseman Christian Folin, the only remaining player without a point, assisted on Suter's third-period, top-shelf goal, ensuring that every skater could claim at least one point.

The Wild is the only team in the League to have achieved this feat so early, although it has had a handful of games more in which to do so than a few of its Central Division rivals.

Even the 7-0-1 Montreal Canadiens, who have just one more goal than Minnesota to lead the league in scoring, have one player on their roster still without a point.

Boudreau can't explain why the Wild has been so offensively balanced, but he certainly isn't complaining. 

"Maybe it's opportunity; maybe it's their own internal drive," Boudreau said after Friday morning's optional practice. "We have been getting some opportunistic play from guys that you wouldn't normally see scoring a lot of points or goals. But that's great. We want to continue it.

"It certainly makes life easier. The last thing you want to do is just grind three lines and four defensemen into the ice. ... I always find you have a successful game if you look at it and every forward's played 10 minutes. That means you've been able to rotate your lines pretty good."

A weeklong road trip through the East Coast seemed to awaken the Wild's offense: Minnesota scored a whopping 13 goals in four games, nine alone in the last two against Boston and Buffalo.

"I think our scoring has been pretty balanced throughout our lineup, and that's the sign of a deep team," forward Charlie Coyle said. "Everyone contributed. You don't always have to get points, but just [play] solid. Everyone's doing their part and that's why we pulled those wins out the last couple games there. And that's how we're gonna be successful moving forward, too."

Eriksson Ek excited for home debut

After lighting the lamp twice and tallying three assists in just four games, rookie forward Joel Eriksson Ek will play at the Xcel Energy Center for the first time Saturday night.

"I've heard a lot of great things about [the fans]," Eriksson Ek said after Thursday's game. "It's going to be really fun."

Eriksson Ek has impressed both the coaching staff and his teammates with not just his offensive output, but the poise he's shown.

"I think coach feels like he can trust him in any situation, and that's huge for a young guy his age coming in and having that effect so quick," Coyle said.

"He does the right things, the little things to be successful. You can tell he gets it right away, and that's pretty special from a young guy."

Eriksson Ek's parents flew from Sweden to the Twin Cities to watch him play in the Wild's next two home games, and he had breakfast with them Friday morning before practice. As for whether they have replicas of Eriksson Ek's No. 14 jersey: not yet, he said.

Spurgeon in, Haula and Scandella day-to-day

The Wild received good news Friday morning: defenseman Jared Spurgeon will be back in the lineup against the Dallas Stars on Saturday. After practice, Spurgeon said he felt ready to go, and Boudreau said Spurgeon will play.

Video: Jared Spurgeon update

"He better or I'll hit him," Boudreau joked.

While Spurgeon moves in, defenseman Marco Scandella will be out with a lower-body injury he sustained Thursday night in Buffalo. Forward Erik Haula also won't play Saturday night.

Boudreau noted that both players are day-to-day.

Pulkkinen placed on waivers

Earlier Friday, the Wild placed Teemu Pulkkinen on waivers. The left winger has one goal in eight games since being claimed off waivers Oct. 11.

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