As a member of the Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames for entirety of his NHL career before this season, Boston Bruins center Stephane Yelle has been in his share of tangles with the Minnesota Wild since they came into existence as an expansion team in the 2000-01 season.
So he knows all too well that no matter how much the personnel changes or the rules of the NHL change, the Wild under head coach Jacques Lemaire (the only coach in franchise history) play the same way — structure, tight defense, strong goaltender and … the trap. The Bruins will have their hands full with the Wild Tuesday night at TD Banknorth Garden.
“Pretty much, they’re coached really well and they also have the same game plan. They keep it tight. They don’t give you much out there. They play it tough,” said Yelle after the Bruins practiced today at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington.
The Wild are second in the NHL to the Bruins in goals allowed per game (2.26 to 2.15) and have the league’s top penalty-kill percentage at 87.9. In other words, it should be a stifling affair when the Bruins and Wild collide. According to defenseman Mark Stuart, who compared the approach to Minnesota to the one the team took in beating New Jersey, the Bruins and Wild are almost mirror images of each other.
“They’re really good structurally, system-wise. We kind of pride ourselves on that too. I think we know what they’re going to come with but we try not to worry too much about that and concentrate on our structure and our system as well,” Stuart said. “It’s going to be a good game because we’re pretty similar in that way. It’s going to be pretty tight.”