It’s only been four days, but Monday feels like it was an eternity ago.
Though the Wild hasn’t seen game action since the beginning of the week, it’s certainly been a busy one. Between adding three new names to the roster and fitting them into the fold, it feels like the Wild’s recent win over Calgary happened weeks ago.
With the rare four-day break, the timing has worked into the Wild’s favor. Rather than jumping right into a game, the team has had a few days of practice to work with the newest members of the Wild and build some chemistry.
“It was kind of good timing for that, to get a few practices in and create some chemistry and kind of get things moving in practice first before adjusting in the games,” Charlie Coyle said. “That was definitely key.”
The break has also provided some nice rest as the Wild prepare to play 20 games in 37 days in the final weeks of the regular season.
“Down the road we’re all going to say that this stretch was nice, the rest was good and having a good couple of quality practices because we know that we ramp things up pretty quickly here,” Head Coach Mike Yeo said.
In the last two practices, Coyle has been skating with Mikko Koivu and the newly acquired Matt Moulson. With Moulson’s gravitation towards the net in addition to Koivu and Coyle's big bodies and puck control, Yeo said he’s been pleased with what they’ve been able to create in practice so far.
“He’s a good player,” Coyle added of Moulson. “You can tell he can put the puck in the net and make plays. He works hard too. He’s a great addition to our team. We’re all glad to have him. Me and Mikko are just trying to create some more chemistry with him and I think we’ve done a good job of that so far.”
The rest of the lines also remained the same, indicating how the Wild will look against Dallas, at least to start. Yeo reserves the right to tinker:
Based on line rushes, it looks like McCormick will get the nod over Fontaine on the fourth line. Also, expect to see netminder Darcy Kuemper between the pipes tomorrow night.
While the practices have been nice to give the players time to establish some chemistry, translating it to the game will be another matter.
“You can do some things in practice,” Yeo said. “You can start to build some chemistry and start to read off each other’s tendencies, but that said, once you get into the heat of the game and you start making plays, not only to have success, but also have the shifts in d-zone and read off each other and come back to the bench and talk it through, those are the times where you really build your line.
“Practice is good, but the game’s another story.”
The Wild finally get to put things to the test Saturday in Dallas. The Stars are chasing the Wild in both the Division and the Wild Card race, trailing by only five points. The Wild currently have a game in hand on the Stars, but Yeo isn’t going to look past them.
“We’re going to a building that we haven’t performed too well in,” Yeo said. ”You add to that that we’re playing a Dallas team that I think is very strong and a team that is playing very well right now. That’s going to be an intense game, a good hard-fought game. We’re going to have to fight for everything out there. That’s probably what we need right now to be honest with you, as far as pushing our group to try and get to the next level.”
Coyle echoed the sentiment and added that it doesn’t matter who the Wild play from here on out, every game is big; every game is important. But instead of focusing on the opponent, the Wild will focus on its game, its system and control what it can.
“Obviously we’re going to look to keep things rolling here,” the forward said. “We’ve got some new guys on our team but I think they fit nicely in practice. I think we all like the way our team looks right now.”
While tomorrow night is an interesting Central Division showdown, the Stars will also retire Mike Modano’s number 9 prior to the game. The Lighthouse caught up with two Minnesota guys who had fond memories of watching Modano play with the North Stars, then the Stars and Team USA when they were younger. Both Zach Parise and Keith Ballard recalled watching Modano skate, his smooth stride and watching his jersey flap in the wind. Be sure to check out WildTV tomorrow for their full comments on the legendary player.
In other news, don't worry Wild fans, netminder Ilya Bryzgalov covered up his Oilers mask with a new Wild look.