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WILD: Rookie McIntyre, 'a bit of an agitator,' makes some noise in NHL debut

ST. PAUL Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo predicted Monday morning that David McIntyre would make his presence felt in his NHL debut. That evening, we found out why. "I'm a little bit of an agitator," the rookie center said. Does that include chirpi...

ST. PAUL

Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo predicted Monday morning that David McIntyre would make his presence felt in his NHL debut. That evening, we found out why.

"I'm a little bit of an agitator," the rookie center said.

Does that include chirping?

"Yeah," he said. "I'll do it all."

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McIntyre was acquired somewhat unceremoniously last summer in an under-the-radar trade that sent blue-line prospect Maxim Noreau to New Jersey. McIntyre was 12-18-30 in 78 games with the Devils' American Hockey League team in Albany last season. Before that, he played two seasons of junior hockey and four seasons at Colgate.

His father, Don, traveled from Pefferlaw, Ontario, to see him play Monday after booking a late flight.

"He didn't get a cheap one," McIntyre said, "so I'll be paying for that one."

McIntyre centered the fourth line with fellow call-up Casey Wellman and Brad Staubitz on Monday, playing 8 minutes, 22 seconds with one shot and two hits. On his first shift during the Wild's 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, he laid out Matt Gilroy with an open-ice check in the Wild zone, though he also hit the ice. At 5 feet 11, 194 pounds, McIntyre is solid but not big by NHL standards.

No matter, he said.

"My game is to be tenacious, be quick, be a guy that the other team hates and be solid defensively," he said.

Shake it up: Staubitz was the only holdover from the fourth line who played in 5-2 weekend losses to Edmonton and Calgary, and Yeo acknowledged using

McIntyre and Wellman to shake things up.

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"The last couple of games, we haven't been good enough," Yeo said. "So we make a little change here and breathe a little life into the lineup, and some guys are going to be real hungry and excited to play tonight."

Yeo sent fourth-line center Warren Peters back to Houston and scratched winger Colton Gillies to make room for McIntyre and Wellman.

"That has to be a line that creates momentum for you, and that's what we're looking for," the coach

said. "That line has done that a lot this year, all those games. The last couple games, not as much. That's why we're making a change."

Gillies scratched: Gillies was scratched for the first time this season. The Wild's first-round pick in the 2007 entry draft has two assists in 23 games but ranks second on the team with 42 hits behind Cal Clutterbuck (88).

"He hits and hits hard," Yeo said of Gillies. "That has an effect on the other team, and I like that part of his game."

Gillies played for Yeo last season in Houston, where he was 7-13-20 in 72 games. But he's been a checker this season, mostly on the fourth line, and doesn't play special teams with the Wild.

"That's an adjustment," Yeo said. "That's a tough thing for a young player. Last year in Houston, he was probably playing 17-18 minutes a game, and now all of a sudden the game starts and there's penalty trouble, he might go five, six minutes without getting a shift. He has to find a way to get himself into a game, and that's not an easy thing for a young player to learn."

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Impressive returns: Defenseman Greg Zanon was activated from injured reserve after missing 16 games with a groin injury. Rookie Nate Prosser was sent back to Houston to make room on 5/8the roster, and rookie defenseman Justin Falk was scratched so Mike Lundin could make his season debut. He had missed the previous 23 games because of a back injury.

Yeo liked what he saw from both Zanon and Lundin, who missed a combined 29 games.

"Great, considering the amount of time that they've missed," Yeo said. "I thought both got stronger as the game went on, and both of them had a good grasp on how we want to play the game. Very impressive for both those guys."

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Related Topics: HOCKEY
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