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Wild To Face Similar Challenges Against Penguins

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

After facing a Dallas Stars team that Wild Head Coach said was one of the most skilled in the NHL, the Wild will again be tasked with a difficult defensive game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. 



"It's understanding that you're playing against some of the highest skilled players in the game today," Yeo said. "Not just in terms of how you play without the puck, but how you play with the puck. Being ready for that challenge every time you go on the ice, understanding and recognizing who you're on the ice against."

Though the Wild essentially held the Stars goalless at five-on-five (the Stars scored a goal a second after a power play expired), Yeo said he felt Minnesota could have done a better job at limiting the Stars opportunities.

Of the 36 shots Dallas took, Jamie Benn, Patrick Sharp, and Jason Spezza took 18.

"I think we did ok. We kept them off the board five-on-five but there were still a number of chances there," Yeo said. "I just don't think that we can take last game and assume the next game is going to be very similar."


When those top lines are out, it's generally the trio of Mikko Koivu, Jason Zucker, and Nino Niederreiter who draw the defensive assignment. Against the Stars, no forward played more against Sharp and Tyler Seguin then Koivu, Zucker, and Niederreiter. 


The line will likely be called upon in Pittsburgh in that capacity.

"On the road it's more difficult with matchups, but we've been doing a good job with it," Koivu said. "We're trying to do our part; it doesn't really matter who we're playing against. For sure you recognize who's out there, and who you're playing against, but at the same time you have to make sure that you're doing your job, and playing the way you're supposed to play."

Similar to facing the Stars, however difficult the Wild can make life for the Penguins in the neutral zone will go a long way in the scoring chances Pittsburgh can muster.

"We have to keep the play tight, and not give them so much room to skate," Jonas Brodin said.

An area the Wild is hoping to continue to shore up is the penalty kill. Benn scored on the power play, and Spezza scored a nearly identical goal at even-strength. Both plays began with point shots by John Klingberg, and ended with deflections at the top of the crease.

"We have to be better at boxing out in front of the net," Brodin said. "We have to take away sticks, and try to make it so [Dubnyk] can see the puck, and take away bodies from the front of the net."

Brett Bulmer, who was recalled from Iowa on Saturday but did not play, was recalled again on Monday after getting sent back down on Sunday.

"There's a greater chance that he'll fit into the lineup tomorrow," Yeo said. "It's going to be a good test, and there's a certain way we have to play that game, and it's not going to be an easy thing to do, so I'm anxious to see if he can fit in."



After he was recalled prior to the game on Saturday, Yeo said Bulmer's training camp performance is what earned him the call-up. Bulmer was one of the final players assigned to Iowa, and has played in 14 NHL games.

"Everything is ramped up to that next level," Bulmer said. "You have to be ready for it, and it's definitely a step up, and I'm ready."

PARISE UPDATE

Yeo said forward Zach Parise, who sprained his MCL on Nov. 5, skated on Monday. While there still isn't a timetable for Parise's return, Yeo said he's coming along.

"He's not going to travel on the road with us, but he'll continue to skate," Yeo said. "He's getting better, and we'll see where he's at when we're back from the road trip."

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