Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 2/4/13
Now that the Minnesota Wild's top line has failed to produce over consecutive games, the lack of production from players such as Kyle Brodziak looks more like a glaring weakness. Brodziak hopes to get on track when the Wild go for their first road victory of the season Monday night against the Phoenix Coyotes. The top line of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley has combined for 23 points for Minnesota (4-3-1), but that unit hasn't produced any in its last two games. "There's a few guys that we want to get going, for sure," coach Mike Yeo said. "The top line is -- they're one of the top lines in the league, although the last couple games haven't been good, so we have to look at that. Why is that?" Yeo has shifted Brodziak around into different spots this season. Brodziak has one assist in eight games after tying for second on the team with 44 points a season ago. "Brodzy's line is so important to us, not necessarily from even an offensive standpoint," Yeo said. "How do we help them get to their game, how do we help them get some more offensive zone time?" Brodziak scored three goals in two victories at Phoenix (3-4-2) last season as the visiting team won all four 2011-12 matchups. The Wild are 0-2-1 on the road as they get ready to face a Coyotes team that has posted shutouts in two of its last three home games. Mike Smith made 17 saves for his first victory of the season Saturday, a 2-0 win over Dallas. "He looked like Smitty out there," coach Dave Tippett said. "It's the first game I'd say he looked confident all year." This could be an emotional game for Nick Johnson, who has three goals and one assist for the Coyotes. The winger had 26 points for the Wild a season ago as a rookie before Minnesota decided not to offer him a contract. Johnson's new team is impressed with his play. "Nick Johnson has been a real pleasant surprise for us -- he's really played well," Tippett said. "Not just because he's scored some points, he's a sound positional player, does a lot of things right in the games that coaches probably notice more than fans notice." Coyotes winger Raffi Torres made his season debut Saturday after his 21-game suspension expired for a hit on the Blackhawks' Marian Hossa in last year's playoffs. He was cheered by Coyotes fans upon his return. "These fans are great," Torres said. "They've been supporting me throughout this whole ordeal so it's nice to feel welcomed and get back at it." Phoenix has gained points in four straight games after a 1-4-0 start. The Coyotes outshot the Stars 34-17 on Saturday. "We felt we've played solid for stretches of games, we just haven't finished a full 60 minutes," captain Shane Doan said. Wild No. 1 goalie Niklas Backstrom won his first eight career starts against the Coyotes but has gone 3-8-0 with a 2.85 goals-against average in his past 11.
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