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Continued: Wild: Skoula is Lemaire's secret weapon

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Last update: October 16, 2007 - 4:44 AM

Skoula says it wasn't a "difficult" transition but a "different one."I've played offensively all my life, but in today's hockey, you can't just have somebody skating around, cheating or looking for offense all the time," Skoula said. "In today's hockey, it's defense and battles."

Last December, Skoula was often at the center of everything bad for the Wild. In four games, he made mistakes -- turnovers, poor pinches, incorrect reads -- that directly led to losses.

But Lemaire stuck with him, and Skoula recovered. In January, when the Wild turned its season around, Skoula was outstanding, in particular during a four-game stretch in which Kim Johnsson was injured. Skoula topped 28 minutes a night and was a plus-8.

"Every hockey player, it's never 82 games of good games or outstanding games," Skoula said. "If you have a tough time for two weeks, a month or two months, you just have to keep going. Somehow you have to get out of it and just keep working and just keep playing.

"That was a tough time for me. But it's only up to the person how fast it takes him to get out of it. And the more I play, I feel more comfortable and more confident."

Michael Russo • mrusso@startribune.com

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