Mike Yeo sees a full tool box with Charlie Coyle, which is why he pushes the young center, uh, … right wing, … well, actually, now left wing … so much and so often.
The Wild coach believes highly in Coyle's ability, and now he's hoping his workmanlike style and versatility will help spur Jason Pominville and Mikael Granlund out of their season-long slumps. So far, so good as Yeo felt Pominville and Granlund "dug in and played the game the right way" in Saturday's 1-0 win over Tampa Bay.
The right-shooting Coyle moved right into injured Zach Parise's slot and played his off side full-time in a game for the first time in his career. Pominville, especially, was impressed how quickly Coyle adjusted. When Coyle wants to be, he's a menacing forechecker, and Pominville and Granlund followed suit against the Lightning.
"Charlie, straight-line speed, he looked loose," Yeo said. "I feel like there's been a lot of thinking in his game, whether it's thinking of where to be or thinking of who to give the puck to.
''I thought [Saturday] he just said, 'I'm going to show everybody how good of a hockey player I am,' and he did that."
Coyle and Pominville assisted on Jared Spurgeon's winning goal. It was arguably Pominville's best game since the first three games of the season when the Parise-Granlund-Pominville line played its best and most productive hockey.
Yes, Pominville extended his season-long goal drought to 13 games, but "it'll come for him," Coyle said. "He's a goal scorer. It'll come. If we keep playing like that and he keeps playing like that, it'll come soon enough."
Parise, week to week because of a sprained MCL, is usually the workhorse and puck digger on that line, but Coyle said he's more than willing to take on that role. He said Pominville and Granlund are easy to play with, so, "I just try to create space and create room for them and let them have the puck"
Pominville, off to the worst start of his career, could only laugh about his goal drought continuing after Saturday's win despite playing so well.
He is beyond frustrated.
"It's really weird the way this game goes at times," Pominville said. "When things are going good, pucks are finding you, and you get those freebies and those easy goals. And when things aren't going your way, it's the complete opposite. You've got to dig deep and find a way. Right now, I'm kind of in that boat.
"Pucks aren't finding me, and when they are, they're bouncing. I just have to find a way to put one in. But it was really a better effort from our line. We didn't give up as much and played with the puck a lot more and we generated some opportunities."
Comfortable in goal
Devan Dubnyk's shutout against the Lightning was his seventh in 51 appearances for the Wild after only nine in his first 192 NHL outings.
He is 35-12-3 with the Wild with a 1.93 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.
There is little doubt Dubnyk, trying to rediscover last year's form after an inconsistent start to this season, has tried to challenge shooters a lot more the past two games. As Yeo said after Saturday's victory, Dubnyk is almost attacking shots.
"You try to find that in between," Dubnyk said. "For me, I'm a guy that plays deeper in certain situations, but you also can get stuck deep if you don't pay attention.
''Certain situations you have to get out. … [Saturday] I felt pretty good on my blades, and pretty patient, and that's the most important part of my game."
Fourth line does its job
The Wild got another good game from fourth-liners Ryan Carter and Chris Porter. Jordan Schroeder played with them in the first period, Christoph Bertschy in the second period and one shift in the third.
"They're just so committed to their role and so committed to playing the game a certain way, bringing energy, bringing a defensive presence, bringing momentum," Yeo said of Carter and Porter. "They talk on the bench, they are good leaders."