Wild notes: Struggling second line seeks success

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 9, 2013 - 9:00 AM

 

Before practice Saturday, coach Mike Yeo met with the Wild’s second line of Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle and Dany Heatley about getting back to what makes them successful, and that’s getting pucks deep and going to work in the offensive zone.

Friday in Columbus, the line was not only on the ice for a handful of goals, but it continually turned pucks over the cause waves and waves of Columbus attacks as the Wild ran through its other lines.

In Sunday’s 3-1 victory over San Jose, Yeo said the line had some good shifts, “but not enough still.”

The trio actually spent a good part of the first period in the offensive zone and Niederreiter and Heatley drew a power play late in the second. But Coyle took two penalties and Heatley again turned pucks over routinely to make life difficult on the Wild. One caused Coyle’s penalty and a golden chance by Logan Couture, another turnover led to an icing, then a Clayton Stoner penalty.

Yeo agreed that Heatley’s turnovers are becoming troublesome, but said, “I’m not going to sit here and point to Heater and say he was the reason. But at the same time, we have to look at everything with that line and figure out why. That’s an important line for us.”

Yeo went on to praise the first and third lines, but he said the second line, “we need not only to contribute but just to not bring momentum to the other team, not give the other team chances. Execution is going to be a huge part of that.”

Working on draws

One day after doing some remedial faceoff work with center Zenon Konopka and assistant coach Darby Hendrickson, Coyle won 7 of 12 faceoffs. In the previous seven games, Coyle won 23 percent.

Konopka has the NHL’s top faceoff winning percentage since he has been in the NHL (65 percent).

“Repetition is, I think, the best thing for him,” Konopka said. “You see it all the time with young players in this league, it takes awhile to adapt to the faceoff circle,”

Konopka said he talks with Kyle Brodziak and Mikko Koivu all the time about faceoffs and “we have to get Charlie more involved with those discussions.”

Scoring, limping

Zach Parise scored twice Sunday and is now tied with Jason Pominville for the team lead with 14 goals. He has played six games since he was supposed to miss two to three weeks with a foot injury. He is still limping noticeably.

“It’s OK,” Parise said. “[Thursday] against Chicago was probably was the first time I really felt comfortable pushing off it and turning. It’s getting better. Some days it gets a little swollen, but all in all, it’s getting better than it was.”

Homecoming

Brent Burns, traded in 2011 to San Jose, feels more comfortable returning to play the Wild.

“It’s still different,” Burns said. “It was such a big part of our lives there. It’s a special place for us. I planned on making that our home for my family even when we were done. I love the city there. I love the atmosphere. We fit in well. We planned on living there our whole lives.”

Etc.

• Konopka, scratched in the previous two games, returned Sunday. Mike Rupp was the lone healthy-scratch forward.

• Former Wild winger Martin Havlat was scratched by San Jose.

• Yeo said there’s no change with concussed center Mikael Granlund, who has been temporarily shut down. He has missed six consecutive games and eight of the past nine. …

• Defenseman Matt Dumba is expected to be loaned to Team Canada for the world junior championships Monday.

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