VANCOUVER – Eric Staal is looking to rekindle his game from the first half.

The Wild center, before playing the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night, said directly, "I can be better."

In the first 41 games, Staal led the Wild with 15 goals and 39 points, was plus-15 and had 108 shots (2.6 shots per game). In nine games leading into the Canucks game, Staal had one goal and one assist, was minus-7 and had 18 shots (2.0 a game).

"Last game [in Calgary], I felt my game was better than it had been in the last couple," Staal said. "If a few of those setups get to the back of the net, sometimes those go in and then you're feeling better offensively.

"I think I can get back to being a little more assertive, getting hungry, getting to the net, attacking a little more and using my speed and my legs. A lot of my game is with my legs and using my speed and power. I need to get to the net a little more and things will take care of themselves."

Coach Bruce Boudreau felt Staal was going through normal doldrums a player sometimes goes through. Part of Staal's decline coincides with the recent struggles of linemate Charlie Coyle. Against the Canucks, Boudreau started rookie Alex Tuch, making his NHL debut, on the line with Zach Parise and Staal.

Staal said beforehand he'd make sure to be in Tuch's ear with advice.

"Simple plays and, 'Let the game come to you,' is the key," said Staal, who has played 980 games. "You do that usually your first game, good things happen."

Tuch said his phone has been busy since being recalled from Iowa.

"It's still going off a good amount," he said. "Twitter took it, then Instagram started going. I got a lot of texts from people back home. It was just really good to see the support system I have back home, I couldn't have made it without all that support.

"It takes a village to raise a boy, and it really shows you how many people support you when you make a step like this in your career and how many people are there to congratulate you. I was happy to see that and glad I have all those people's support."

Goalies 'slim down'

Beginning Feb. 4, all NHL goalies, including the Wild's Devan Dubnyk, had to debut their slimmed-down pants. Sarcastically, Dubnyk said before Saturday's game, "Very excited."

"It's done now," he said. "They feel fine. I won't think twice about it. I already tried to have a choice. I don't get a choice. I've had four or five practices in them. They spent significant time in the steam room, and they're ready to go."

Any violation with the new pants results in a two-game suspension, $25,000 fine for the team and $1,000 fine to the equipment manager. Dubnyk was kiddingly warning equipment manager Tony DaCosta on Saturday morning.

Incidentally, Dubnyk has been working with a green mask during recent practices that he will debut Wednesday against Chicago, when the Wild next wears green sweaters at home.

Patriotic fervor

On Sunday, the Wild, which plays the Jets on Tuesday, flies from Vancouver to Winnipeg, where players will gather to watch the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl.

"Just another year with the Pats and the Super Bowl," said Coyle, a Boston native. "I think it's going to be a great game. I've been spoiled. Every year they're a contender, always fighting for a title. It's pretty cool. There's a buzz every year around them."

Most everybody in the Wild room thinks the Patriots will win.

"I like Tom Brady. I like seeing a dynasty." Parise said. "I like seeing a team that constantly wins that every one's trying to knock off the mantle."