Sensing that Charlie Coyle still was beating himself up over a bad game Saturday at Carolina, Wild coach Mike Yeo pulled the second-year forward aside Tuesday.
Coyle was minus-1 against the Hurricanes, but most glaringly, the reliable youngster committed turnovers and lost puck battles throughout the Wild’s shootout win.
“I could make the excuse that the puck was rolling, but it’s the same game for everyone and personally I had a tough game,” Coyle said before Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. “It wasn’t a game I was proud of, so it was nice of the coach to come up to you and talk to you and care about you and have confidence in you.
“I’m pretty hard on myself, but he told me I just need to learn from it. You’re going to have games like that. What’s most important is how you bounce back.”
Coyle bounced back well in a 2-1 shootout victory over Toronto. Besides a terrific first period and his second career fight, Coyle stole a puck and set up Zach Parise’s tying goal late in the third period.
“What a great play, what a strong play he makes,” said Yeo, calling Coyle’s game a “building block.”
After a terrific training camp, Coyle looked poised for a breakout season. But halfway through his second game against Anaheim, he sprained his right knee. He missed 12 of the next 13 games.
“He’s just building his game,” Yeo said. “That’s what he’s got to understand. It’s not going to be perfect. For him to expect himself to step in at that level that he was playing in at camp, it’s not realistic.
“We’re going to have patience with him. He’s shown already what an impact he can have in our lineup, how effective he can be. At the same time, we also know he’s not on top of his game.”
Coyle has scored one goal and two assists in four games since returning, but he has got high expectations.
“It’s just frustrating because I worked so hard to get ready for the season. I want so bad to get back to the gear I was at before everything happened,” Coyle said. “So I’ve got to get my legs back under me and I’m trying hard to do that. If I have a bad game, I have to learn to turn the switch, know it happens, forget about it and move on to the next one.”
The Buffalo Sabres’ mass rebuild continued Wednesday when they cleaned house, firing longtime General Manager Darcy Regier and coach Ron Rolston. Longtime coach Lindy Ruff was fired last season, and in the past several months, captain Jason Pominville was traded to Minnesota and sniper Thomas Vanek to the Islanders.
Goalie Ryan Miller’s days in Buffalo also likely are numbered with Pat LaFontaine now running the show and Ted Nolan back in the fold as interim coach.
“[Regier’s] always been good to me and pretty honest to me, but at the same time, it’s a business move and something had to be done,” said Pominville, the Wild’s leading goal scorer, of the NHL’s worst team. “I feel bad for the fans, but I’m sure this will make them feel a little bit better and buy time for the people in place. There’s been a lot of changes. There’s probably going to be more changes. But I’ve turned the page and am excited to be here.”
• Defenseman Clayton Stoner (leg) returned after missing Saturday’s game. Rookie defenseman Matt Dumba was scratched for the ninth time and fifth in six games.
• Minnetonka’s Jake Gardiner, who played for the Skippers and collegiately for Wisconsin, played at Xcel Energy Center for the first time as a pro Wednesday. The Maple Leafs defenseman was expecting three dozen friends and family.