MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The NHL is unique from other pro sports in that, when it comes to the holidays, hockey simply shuts it down — no practices, no games.

So after three days off, the Wild get back to work tonight at home against Pittsburgh. And the key is shaking off the rust.

“Whoever can turn their brain on the quickest here is certainly going to have a leg up on the opposition,” coach Mike Yeo said.

It’s not like they don’t like that three day break in the middle of the season.

“I think this break gives everyone just kind of the mental rest you need,” defenseman Matt Dumba said. “Once it starts getting long into the season here.”

But the break is just long enough to make a coach nervous. You don’t always know what you’re going to get the day you return from a mandatory vacation, especially with no practice day first. The Wild are jumping right to game day.

“Right back on the horse here,” Yeo said. “These are always kind of interesting games. And obviously with the skill level on the other side, we have to find a way to get our heads into it and make sure that we have the right approach coming into the game.”

That’s why the Wild took a bit of a different approach this morning. It wasn’t the typical morning skate but rather more of a regular practice. More drills, more up-tempo.

“Stuff to kind of get the legs back a little more,” forward Charlie Coyle said. “Rather than just the typical morning skate. Kind of get a little warmed up, trying to get the cobwebs out and plane legs and all that.”

That’s nice to get the legs moving, but the biggest key is between the ears. You have to get that back in gear more than anything else.

“The more you think about the fact we had three days off, the worse situation you’re gonna be in,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “We all know what makes us successful in here, so the sooner we can get focused and start doing that the better off we’re going to be.”


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