CALGARY, ALBERTA – The Corral — a small, dark 66-year-old arena with a low roof, ghostly shadows and a press box that doesn’t look as if it should even be able to hang from the rafters anymore — would have been the perfect site for Bruce Boudreau to skate the Wild into the ground Wednesday.
It’s an old-school, vintage barn — one where the Calgary Flames played for a few years when they relocated from Atlanta in 1980 — and has the feel of the type of rink where Herb Brooks would have conducted his notorious “Herbies.”
Boudreau, the Wild coach, probably wanted to do that Wednesday. He chose not to.
Instead, given the way the Wild has played of late — blowing three leads in its past six games for losses — Boudreau thought it was imperative to get something out of the first of two straight days of practices.
With the team’s next game not until Friday against the Flames, Boudreau would have scrapped Wednesday’s practice as a reward had the Wild beaten the Vancouver Canucks the night before. Instead, the Wild saw its 2-0 lead evaporate into a 4-2 deficit before rallying to tie only to still lose 5-4 in regulation.
That led to a long list of things to reinforce during a lengthy practice.
Boudreau said the amount of odd-man rushes the Wild has allowed lately has been “ridiculous,” so he worked on tracking back, picking up the right man, communicating and not losing the third guy high in the offensive zone in the first place.
“It slides and slides and slides, and then it slides into a problem, and then you have to fix it,” Boudreau said.
Before practice, the coaching staff showed several video clips of the Canucks game. Boudreau admitted the Zach Parise-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle line starred in the film, and not in a good way.
Boudreau called the trio out Tuesday night, saying they needed to be better. He talked to “a couple of them” Wednesday, including Parise on the ice for five minutes as practice wrapped up.
The game turned upside down after Matt Dumba’s careless interference penalty with a 2-0 lead, which led to the first of two Vancouver power-play goals in a span of 1:59.
But, Parise said, “Our line wasn’t good. We didn’t help the cause.”
“We didn’t support each other very much up the ice, turned the puck over a lot in the offensive zone,” Parise continued. “It’s just one of those games. We couldn’t get much going. It happens.
“But I think we’ve got to learn from it, too. There were times where we just gave up the puck away. I think the first five times I had the puck, I gave it away. It’s tough to feel good about your game when that happens.”
Most of the Staal line’s turnovers came on entries when the group had full control of the puck before coughing it up. That’s how the Canucks got most of their rushes against that line.
When the line did establish a forecheck, Coyle said the three forwards pressed too hard, got away from what works and “cheated the system. We had that third guy too low, and one pass beats all of us and we’re backchecking all night.
“I know Eric and Zach; that’s not nearly good enough for them, and we’re all on the same page there,” he said.
“We have to be much better for our team. I can’t think of too many shifts down in their end and cycling and feeling good and getting chances. We didn’t have anything. We were playing in our own end it seemed like all night.”
Boudreau said the Staal line can’t be a once-in-awhile line. The Wild needs the three forwards on top of their game every night. Staal, in particular, has dried up with no goals on 31 shots in the past 10 games.
“They’re good players and they’re all professional and they’re going to get back on track,” Boudreau said.
“We’d like to see, and we haven’t seen it too often, that all the lines are going at the same time.
“Against Pittsburgh [last week], we were all involved and committed. I just think in some other times when you’re playing teams that have a lesser record than us, we’re not all committed.
“It’s tough to win like that.”