Wild’s Charlie Coyle back on skates five weeks after breaking leg
Charlie Coyle hadnt been on the ice with his Wild teammates in four weeks and five days when he skated at Xcel Energy Center Tuesday ahead of the Philadelphia game.
The center broke his right leg Oct. 12 at the Chicago Blackhawks and had surgery, involving some hardware, to reset his fibula. Or as Coyle said, Im bionic now.
Coyle said he skated on his own Monday and once last week as well. And while the initial diagnosis was six to eight weeks out, Coyle was hesitant to put a time marker on his recovery schedule.
I just want to make sure Im 100 percent, Coyle said. You dont want anything to linger throughout the season, through the rest of it. So Im just taking it step by step and making small improvements every day, it feels like, and getting more comfortable with it. So well see when the time comes.
Coyle said hes been feeling really good recently and was even surprised the first time back on the ice with how easy it felt from the start.
I think its just getting stronger on his leg, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said of Coyles next step. I mean, he looks pretty good out there. I dont think we have any timetable right now. I think when he feels ready to play, hell let us know. Im sure the doctor will have some say. Its more up to those two right now.
The weird part about Coyles injury was that he didnt realize how bad it was right away, since he said he took a way harder hit earlier in the year and was fine. But once he stood up and skated two strides after absorbing teammate Jared Spurgeons slapshot, he knew something was wrong. And the defenseman hasnt even apologized or bought Coyle dinner to make it up to him yet, Coyle said. So maybe Spurgeon is a double agent, taking out his own squad one by one.
Hes going after everyone right now. Sniper, Coyle joked. He was very upset. I was like, Its not your fault, you know. I shouldnt be standing there.
Zuckers zest on new line
Last season, winger Jason Zucker played on the Wilds most productive line alongside center Mikko Koivu and winger Mikael Granlund. And while that line was red hot in 2016-17, combining Koivus defense with Granlunds playmaking and Zuckers speed, it didnt start this season with quite the same verve.
So on this most recent four-game road trip, Boudreau switched it up, putting Zucker alongside center Eric Staal and winger Nino Niederreiter. The shift seems to have worked, as Zucker entered Tuesdays game on a six-goal, three-game streak and also assisted Staals goal in the first game of the road swing.
Thats what happens when you get on a line with Eric Staal, good things happen, Zucker said Monday. Weve been trying to just play hard and use our speed and use our assets to our advantage and been trying to battle and just try to win games, really. And weve been around the net a lot as a line, had a lot of good chances. And for me, they just happen to go in. But those guys have been a big part of it as well.
Combining Zucker with Staal and Niederreiter created a speedy line of good skaters and big bodies. Boudreau said when pairing two of the best skaters together in Staal and Zucker, it usually works out.
Weve played 16 games. [Zucker has] had some downsides. Thats why I, obviously, took him off that line for a reason, Boudreau said. But hes found some great chemistry with Eric, and well keep him on there for a while, see how it goes.
Dubnyk clipping along
Goaltender Devan Dubnyk earned his first shutouts of the season in back-to-back games to end the road trip. And that pattern is something hes hoping he and the team can perpetuate.
Youve just got to take it as another game. I know its the clich answer, but especially the way the stretches have gone, the way the season has gone, thats really how you get into a roll in the season is forgetting about previous games, wins and losses, Dubnyk said Saturday ahead of his start. We remember last year when we got things rolling how we did it, and it was by keeping level heads and preparing properly for each game.
But with Dubnyk on such a roll as of late, stopping 73 shots in the past two games, Boudreau said he hasnt been speaking to his netminder, not wanting to mess with whatever juju Dubnyks got going.
Its nice to get into a bit of a rhythm and get some results, Dubnyk said. Ive been feeling pretty good in the net all year, but the results werent really there, so that doesnt really help or make you feel good. So its nice to get a couple good results. But like Ive said, Im in the same boat as everybody and going to keep going because Im sure if I let in a couple goals, itll be the same story all over again. So well try to keep it in the positive frame for sure.