VANCOUVER – There was an awkward costume change in the middle of Friday's long Wild practice.
At the start, rookie Alex Tuch and fifth-year pro Charlie Coyle were wearing black jerseys. That was especially significant because it signified that Coyle was no longer on the power play.
After the special teams portion of practice at Rogers Arena, 5-on-5 line rushes began. Each player changed to the jersey color of his line.
Tuch put on white, which suggested the fourth line with Chris Stewart and Tyler Graovac.
Coyle put on red, which indicated the first line with Zach Parise and Eric Staal.
A few moments later, Coyle and Tuch were told to switch jerseys.
"Someone said, 'You're in red today,' I think one of the equipment managers," Tuch said. "I went over and looked at the lines and was like, 'OK, right away with Parise and Staal.' I'm like, 'OK, just keep my mouth shut, put it on,' and went to work."
If Friday's practice was any indication, Tuch, 20, will make his NHL debut Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks as first-line right wing. Coyle, who has one goal, 10 assists and 23 shots in the past 17 games, will start as fourth-line right wing.
And, Coyle will be replaced on the power play by Jason Zucker. Before practice, Coyle met with coach Bruce Boudreau about his recent play.
"He handled it very maturely," Boudreau said. "I told him what I thought he had to do and I told him I think he was a great player, and I want him to get back to being a great player."
Coyle said, "Bottom line I've got to produce and play my game and get back to the way I know how to play, and that's being physical at the start and just being a big body out there."
Coyle spent the past few days watching his recent shifts.
"I just got to find those soft areas and get in position to receive the puck and put pucks on net," Coyle said. "I've gotten away from that. Sometimes you press too hard and you think you're doing the right thing and you work too hard.
"So I just have to get back to clear my mind, play with confidence and just do those little things."
Tuch, a 2014 first-round pick who had 11 goals and 11 assists in 34 games for Iowa, couldn't believe the line he was on. He called it, a few times, "unbelievable."
Even though Boudreau and Iowa coach Derek Lalonde deploy the same systems, Tuch listened to all of Staal and Parise's instructions.
"Guys took me in right away, helped me out and answered my questions," he said. "I'm just excited to get going."
How long Tuch stays on the top line depends on his play, how Saturday's game goes and perhaps the way Coyle responds. Nino Niederreiter was moved from Staal's line back with Erik Haula and Jason Pominville. Ironically, that line, which was so good in the second half last season, debuted in Vancouver last Feb. 15 — John Torchetti's debut as interim coach. Jordan Schroeder looks like he'll be scratched.
"I remember [Tuch] from training camp. He's got size, skill, a good shot," Staal said. "If he gets that opportunity [Saturday], he just has to simplify and play with pace. I think this league, a lot of times the next level is just the pace. If he does that, he's got the skill and talent for sure."
As for Zucker, who has scored 10 goals and nine assists in the past 19 games, Boudreau hopes the terrific chemistry he has with linemates Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund translates to the power play.
Niederreiter took Coyle's spot on the top power-play unit, Zucker took Niederreiter's spot on the second. Zucker is second in the NHL with 35 points at 5-on-5, two points behind NHL and Edmonton Oilers young star, Connor McDavid.
Zucker has played a total of 11 minutes, 41 seconds (14 seconds per game) on the power play this season.
"I think he's earned the right to be on the power play the way he's played, so we'll see how it works out," Boudreau said.
Added Zucker, "It's a good opportunity for me, and I've got to prove myself, too. I don't think they're just going to keep me there unless I prove myself."