DALLAS – Charlie Coyle is in one of those ruts again where he’s not shooting and not scoring because of it.
Scoring slumps have been an annual thing for the Wild winger, and they usually aren’t because he’s snakebit.
“He’s got to shoot the puck when he gets it,” coach Bruce Boudreau said after Coyle’s one-shot game during Sunday’s 4-2 loss to Nashville. “He’s not looking to shoot … ever.”
Boudreau said he met with Coyle about this before Saturday’s game vs. Anaheim, and it’s clear Boudreau’s frustrated that the session had no effect.
Coyle has two shots in two games since and continued a recent pattern of getting the puck in the offensive zone and either not shooting or trying to stickhandle himself into the perfect position to shoot.
“I just have to demand the puck a little more, I think, and get myself in positions where I can receive the puck and just get it off quick,” Coyle said. “It doesn’t have to be a good shot. Usually just get it on net, and you never know what can happen. So I’ve got to do more of that and just do whatever I can to get the puck to the net.”
When Coyle scored his 12th goal during a career-high four-point game Dec. 23 vs. the Rangers, he was leading the Wild in goals. He has scored once in 13 games since and has dropped to tied for fourth on the Wild in goals.
Worse, in his first 26 games, Coyle had 61 shots on goal (2.35 a game), including three or more shots in 15 games. In 20 games since, Coyle has 28 shots (1.4 a game).
“He’s got to shoot the puck, and then he’s got to win the battles to get the puck,” Boudreau said. “And right now he’s not doing either.”
Usually when Coyle goes through these stretches, he erupts.
From Jan. 21 to March 1 last season, Coyle scored 11 goals in 18 games with 39 shots on goal (2.2 a game). However, he followed that by scoring no goals in his final 18 games with 24 shots on goal (1.3 a game).
“I hope if he’s gone through these things before that he realizes how crappy he feels when he’s going through them and how it’s not working,” Boudreau said. “So if I were him I would change the way I’m doing things during these times.”
Man in the middle
Jordan Schroeder’s versatility is coming in handy.
A winger predominantly whenever up with the Wild, Schroeder played center the past two games, once when Boudreau sent a message to Tyler Graovac with a healthy scratch, once when Mikko Koivu missed his first game of the season because of the flu.
The Wild’s depth at the position took a blow when Zac Dalpe tore his meniscus earlier this season. He returned with Iowa and played seven games, but he hasn’t played since Jan. 7 because of scar tissue in the same knee. He underwent a procedure to zap it.
Schroeder played center pretty much full time with Iowa and in college with the Gophers.
“I’m comfortable with it,” Schroeder said. “Coming in and taking draws are a little tougher in this league [with] bigger, stronger guys. … I think it comes naturally, the position. To be able to go back and forth I think is versatile and hopefully can help this team.”
No lead safe
In the Wild’s past six games, one of the two teams had at least a two-goal lead. On each occasion, the opponent came back to at least tie. The team that had a two-goal lead is 2-4 in those games.
Comebacks from any lead have been plentiful in the NHL this month especially.
“It’s like prevent defense in football. It never seems to work,” Boudreau said after the Wild blew a two-goal lead — the third time it did that in four games — to lose to Nashville.
Bertschy up for Gabriel
The Wild swapped Iowa wingers, recalling Christoph Bertschy and reassigning Kurtis Gabriel. Koivu did travel to Dallas and is expected to play.