Pace, for the Minnesota Wild, can take on a number of meanings.
"There are things that go into it. Playing fast isn't just skating around 100 miles per hour," Zach Parise said. "You can't play fast if you play through the neutral zone like we have been. The way we've been turning pucks over in the neutral zone, you can't play fast."
As Head Coach Mike Yeo opened practice Wednesday, he addressed his players at center ice, stressing pace and execution, which to the Wild, are intertwined.
As the Wild go through the early season checklist of shoring up different elements of its game, the focus in practice on Tuesday was the defensive zone.
It's an area the Wild has excelled in the past, so an area that it would like to get back to its old standards after returning from a three-game, West coast road trip.
"Certainly one focal point for us is how we come into our defensive zone coverage," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "It resulted in a few goals against last game, and usually an area where we're pretty sharp."
After losing to the Los Angeles Kings in overtime on Friday, Head Coach Mike Yeo said the Wild's game on Sunday against the Ducks could be a similar challenge.
"We keep facing teams that are a little ornery right now, so it will be another good test on Sunday," Yeo said.
That's what the Wild is expecting at Honda Center when it faces the Anaheim Ducks, a winless team (0-3-1), but a team with a lot of size and skill.
There was a lot of talk during preseason about the Wild's young core, and how it was ready to take the next step and potentially take the Wild to the next level.
Not to be forgotten over Minnesota's first three games, all wins, are the veterans.
"We talk about a lot of our veterans, and you've got to be pleased with all of them, the way that they're playing," Head Coach Mike Yeo said.
The wait is over for the Wild. After playing in its home opener on Saturday, an energetic, intense game against a division rival in the St. Louis Blues, Minnesota is back in game-action Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes.
Head Coach Mike Yeo said after the 3-2 victory against St. Louis on Saturday he wanted to use the next four days and three practices to tighten up certain areas of the Wild's game. Playing against an up-tempo Coyotes team, with such a long break between games, it's imperative, Yeo said, the Wild don't wait to get going.
"It's hard to replicate the battle level and the pace (in practice)," Yeo said. "With that, having to execute at that speed, you do your best, you do what you can to try to practice hard, and try to practice fast."
Three days after being traded the Minnesota Wild, Devan Dubnyk played against his former team the Arizona Coyotoes.
"I got a chance to play against them pretty quickly last year, so at least I got that one out of the way," Dubnyk said.
Dubnyk will again get to play against Arizona when the Wild play against the Coyotes on Thursday.
The Minnesota Wild will likely dress its third different lineup in three games on Thursday in Arizona against the Coyotes, with another player likely making his Wild season debut.
Head Coach Mike Yeo said rookie forward Tyler Graovac will be out a couple of weeks with a lower-body injury. Groavac played in the season-opener in Colorado, but not on Saturday against St. Louis, making way for Jordan Schroeder.
With Schroeder now in Iowa, it could mean that Justin Fontaine is ready to see his first action of the regular season. After missing part of training camp and landing on injured-reserve with an upper-body injury, Fontaine has been practicing with his teammates, and back on a line with Thomas Vanek and Charlie Coyle, where he was to begin camp.
For the second consecutive year, Nino Niederreiter is on the cover of a prominent hockey video game in his native country.
Niederreiter is featured on EA Sports' NHL 16 in Switzerland, months after the 23-year-old forward put in a historic season for a Swiss-born player.
In the 2014-15 season, Niederreiter became the first NHL player born in Switzerland to score 20 goals in a season (Niederreiter scored 24 a season ago). He was featured on the cover of NHL 15 in Switzerland, and this year, is sharing the honor with Nashville Predators defenseman and countryman Roman Josi. Niederreiter is the cover athlete for the Xbox One and PlayStation4 versions, while Josi is on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games.
Two victories to start the 2015-16 season has not changed the approach of Minnesota Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo and his players, who know they have kinks to work out and areas to tighten up in their game.
“Scoring eight goals in two games, you have to be doing a lot of good things to make that happen to be 2-0…but again we’re not a team that is just going to rest on that,” Yeo said after practice Sunday morning. “We have to continue to get better and there is a number of areas where we can do that.”
VIEW PHOTO GALLERY FROM PRACTICE
And with four days before facing the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale the Wild is looking forward to the opportunity to regroup and reflect on what they’ve been able to produce thus far.
“It’s a thing you need to take advantage of when you get these days off and you can get some work in and work on the systems,” said Mikko Koivu. “It’s a lot better to have these days after you win...before a big road trip.”
Charlie Coyle, who scored two goals in the 3-2 victory over St. Louis Saturday night, felt the same way.
“This just gives us time to work on some things we need to work on, tighten some things up and watch a little film and see what we need to do better,” Coyle said.
Yeo knows the team is all pulling in the same direction and is making sure the schedule reflects the need to rest and push.
“The guys put the work in today and that’s what we needed,” Yeo said. “You have to kind of grind through it - like I said I knew the guys were going to be tired today but you have to kind of grind through it and this gives us a full day and a half of rest now and then we’ll have an opportunity to come back after a day off basically and have two practices.”
“Dubnyk in Arizona is probably where we’re going now,” Yeo said. “Kuemper has played very well in LA. That’s kind of the idea. Dubnyk’s old team and Kuemper’s past in LA.”
- Players are off on Monday.
- Jason Zucker was not on the ice, having been given a maintenance day.
- Tyler Graovac is recovering from a lower body injury and the team will not know where he stands until practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, before heading out to Arizona. There are no plans to make a roster move in the next couple days according to Yeo.
Yes, the game Saturday between the Wild and Blues will be Minnesota's home opener, a rematch of a first round series of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the next chapter of a budding rivalry.
But the mantra after morning skate on Saturday was keeping everything in check, and not getting too amped up prior to what has the ingredients to be an intense, passionate game.
"I don't approach games that way," Devan Dubnyk said. "I'm looking to just build each game. It's early in the year, and I'm trying to build my game each game, and give the guys an opportunity to win as best as I can."