DALLAS – Throughout the summer and during the season, Wild forward Charlie Coyle practices his shot.
He focuses on accuracy, quickness and how much muscle he can pack into it.
“I work on my shot so much that I should use it,” Coyle said. “It’s like stupid not to [when] you work on it that much.”
That’s what Coyle reminded himself of during the recent All-Star break, and the message clearly resonated with the versatile 25-year-old.
In his first two games back, Coyle scored a goal in each — and not off a lucky deflection or well-positioned redirect but a surefire windup.
“It paid off,” Coyle said.
Coyle finished off a two-on-one rush Tuesday in the 3-2 shootout win over the Blue Jackets and then unleashed a quick shot off a faceoff in the 5-2 victory over the Golden Knights on Friday to bump his goal output to six — a far cry from the 13 he had at this point last season but an encouraging outburst after Coyle has gone through occasional droughts since his return from a right fibula fracture.
And what could spark more offense is his approach, as he’s trying to get off more shots while in uncomfortable shooting positions, a technique that could surprise goaltenders.
“All of a sudden it’s in the back of the net, and they don’t know what happened,” Coyle said. “Those things are huge.”
Winger Nino Niederreiter logged 15 minutes, 16 seconds in his return to the lineup Friday after an eight-game absence because of a left ankle bone bruise.
Niederreiter registered two shots, had another three blocked and two missed the net.
“He said he was fine,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He had a couple good opportunities to score, and I think given a couple games under his belt, he wouldn’t have missed them.”
Since the officials received a refresher course on goaltender interference during All-Star weekend, the Wild has had two relatively swift verdicts delivered.
It was quickly determined goalie Devan Dubnyk was not interfered with on the Blue Jackets’ game-tying goal in the Wild’s eventual win. The same happened Friday when defenseman Jared Spurgeon’s goal was upheld after the Golden Knights challenged.
Referees were recently reminded to use video to figure out if they missed an infraction on the play, rather than searching for a reason to overturn their original call.
“I think I’m 0-for-30 right now,” Boudreau said. “We play it by ear every time. You make the call or the other team makes the call. You hope the referees in the league see it your way.”
With the Twin Cities the mecca of the sports world this weekend amid Super Bowl festivities, the Wild had to tweak how it traveled to Dallas.
The team went through TSA screening at Xcel Energy Center and then flew out of a designated gate at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport instead of departing from the Signature Flight Support area. It also bused to the airport because no on-site parking was available at the airport.
This is also how the Wild will get to St. Louis on Monday.
Boudreau said he’s sure the team considered remaining on the road between the two games, but ultimately the uniqueness of the Super Bowl being in Minneapolis drew the group home.
“You don’t get the chance to have the Super Bowl in your city every day,” Boudreau said, “and I’m sure there’s one or two people that bought tickets. I’d hate for them not to be able to go if they mortgaged their house to get a ticket to the Super Bowl.”
As for Boudreau, he’s content watching the game on TV.
“I wouldn’t drop eight grand to see the pope,” he said.