One reason Wild coach Mike Yeo scrapped his three-scoring-lines system after just two periods last week was the need for a checking line, he said.

On a team rooted in defense, he believed it was important to return to a third line that concentrated on shutting down opponents' top lines. That, after all, was the reason Matt Cooke was brought in last spring and Devin Setoguchi was shipped out in the offseason.

The third line of Cooke, Kyle Brodziak and rookie Justin Fontaine have become defensive stalwarts. Look no further than Thursday's effort in shutting down Capitals star Alex Ovechkin in even-strength play.

"They saw quite a few minutes against him," Yeo said. "But it (comes down to) getting more zone time in the offensive zone."
What Yeo was saying is that in order to be a good defensive line, they need to dominate possession in the Wild's offensive zone. The best defense is a good offense, a message constantly reinforced to the team and especially important for a defense-first line.

Brodziak played well against the Capitals and seems to have rebounded from last season's subpar performance.

"That's encouraging," Yeo said. "When he's playing like that, when that line is playing like that, they're a tough line to play against."

It starts with the faceoff, where Brodziak has won 57.5 percent of the draws he has taken with help from Cooke and Fontaine crashing into the circle.