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Coyle is a right winger, Wild coach Boudreau says

ST. PAUL -- Bruce Boudreau would like those still wondering whether Charlie Coyle will play center this season to get those thoughts out of their heads.

Minnesota Wild center Charlie Coyle, photographed Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)
Minnesota Wild center Charlie Coyle, photographed Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)

ST. PAUL - Bruce Boudreau would like those still wondering whether Charlie Coyle will play center this season to get those thoughts out of their heads.

He already knows where he wants Coyle.

"It's important that one player knows that this is where we want them to be," Boudreau said. "I think if he has to fill in for certain spots, or things don't work, we can change it (but) he's going to be a right winger for us."

Coyle played center through the opening week of camp, and in the preseason opener against the Buffalo Sabres, which left some wondering whether Boudreau planned to experiment with the 24-year-old power forward this season.

But that was more out of necessity because Eric Staal didn't travel, and Mikko Koivu and Erik Haula were coming back from the World Cup of Hockey.

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With Koivu and Haula back with the team, Coyle has assumed his spot on the right side of the circle.

Boudreau said it's good that Coyle showed he can play both positions but feels it makes the most sense to play Coyle at right wing this season. His 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame should pair perfectly with the equally large Staal in the middle and the crafty Zach Parise playing on the left.

That figures to be the team's top line, although Boudreau has remained tight-lipped so far. Coyle and Parise worked with Haula in practice on Wednesday. Staal got the day off after playing in the preseason game against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.

"You never know how the coach is going to run things," Coyle said. "You have to focus and work on what's asked and play well. That's really it. It's about creating chemistry ... and being a sponge and taking everything in."

Parise seems excited about the idea of playing with Coyle and Staal.

"That's the plan," he said. "Those guys with some size - there is some pretty big defensemen that we play against in our division - with their size, protecting the puck down low, winning those 50-50 pucks, I think that's going to be important.

"We can all skate. We can all play off the rush. I think potentially - and I don't want to get ahead of myself - it could be a very good line."

Tape-to-tape

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Boudreau was in midseason form in his press conference after the loss to the Avalanche on Tuesday. He wasn't happy with the way his team played overall, and was especially was upset with the way his team passed the puck.

"It's the NHL," he said. "You can really tell the differences with the soft passes. If we can't pass, we can't make plays. If we can't make plays, we're going to get beaten. Our pucks were in our feet, bouncing, and everything else. We have the focus on putting the pucks on the tape so guys can get it with speed."

That was a point of emphasis in practice on Wednesday morning at Ridder Arena. Boudreau was extremely vocal while leading players through nearly 20 minutes of various passing drills.

"We are getting there," he said. "It's a lot of new things for guys. ... So, everything from the drills to everything else, guys are asking questions about because they haven't seen them or they're not used to them or they're not used to the lingo that I'm using. They are starting to get it."

When asked whether the extra passing work was in response to Tuesday's performance, the coach said, "You guys can read that into that."

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