Winger Zach Parise made it clear the call isn’t his.
Same with winger Nino Niederreiter, who said, “Let the coach figure that out.”
As for center Charlie Coyle, he’s not focusing on the decision.
“Whatever happens, happens,” he said. “... I’m just taking it game by game.”
But whether those three remain a line when captain Mikko Koivu is ready to return from a lower-body injury is a question that will headline the Wild until a resolution is reached because of how dominant the line has been since getting formed, with its latest effort stoking a 5-1 win over the Panthers Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.
“We’ll talk about it,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I don’t know if and when Mikko’s going to play next. It’s not a slam-dunk that he’s going to play Saturday. I don’t really have to worry about it until tomorrow at practice when the jerseys come out.”
The trio has certainly made a convincing case to stick together; it chipped in three more goals Thursday and racked up five points to total seven goals and 14 points since the three started playing together in the final period of the 7-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers last Friday.
“We all know how good of a player Mikko is, and we're going to welcome him back in the lineup,” Parise said. “Yeah, we'll see where everything falls. But as of today, the way our line has been playing really well, you know we'll see where it goes. But we were playing really well with Mikko in the middle, too, so I don't have to make that decision".
Getting Niederreiter and Coyle involved has been a major development; Niederreiter scored twice Thursday and has four tallies in his last three games. And Coyle has three points in his last three games – a fifth of his production for the entire season.
“Sometimes you just mix it up, and out comes something good,” Boudreau said. “I think Charlie skates much more in the center than he does on the wings. He’s tireless, so I think that’s a positive thing. Nino’s getting his confidence, and Zach is playing well.”
The continued emergence of this line wasn’t the only positive for the Wild.
Its defense contributed on offense, combining for seven points.
“They got the puck, they moved it,” Boudreau said. “It was tape-to-tape. They attacked at the right time.”
Overall, the Wild’s offense has taken off the last two games – racking up 12 goals. That output ranks tied for second in team history for the most goals scored in consecutive games.
“Both games seemed to kind of be … where it was close the whole time and then it opened up,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “That’s us being patient and just being comfortable in those scenarios, and it doesn’t mean we’re going to put in 12 goals every two games. But we can. We’re really good at going to the net. We got guys that can score when they get those chances, and it seems like us playing patient and playing in the right spots is really creating some chances for us. So it’s fun to see.”
This is the first time the Wild has won back-to-back games since Nov.21 and 23, an important objective of this homestand for it to swing back into a playoff spot.
“Obviously, we put ourselves in a position where we got to try and climb back to where we need to be and where we expect ourselves to be,” center Eric Staal said. “We’ve had a chance the first two at home to get the points, and we did. Now, we take another step, refresh tomorrow and go after Calgary and get another win at home.”