Not much happened down at Xcel Energy Center Wednesday morning, which for your sake could be a good thing as the Wild looks for its first winning streak since Feb. 27-28 Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Following a win over San Jose to snap a five-game losing streak, all lines and defense pairs were status quo for a change today.
“It was an anomaly,” deadpanned Wild coach Bruce Boudreau.
After a month of scrambling lines and lineups and positions, NOTHING changed today.
“Obviously success will be the difference of whether they stay the same or they don’t,” Boudreau said after the Wild’s fifth practice all month. “That’s why Mikko’s line has been the same since November. They’ve had success and they found a chemistry.”
Christian Folin practiced again today and Boudreau expects him to return this weekend. With back-to-back afternoon games, maybe they only play him in one to ease him in.
Ryan White is sick with the flu and doubtful to play the Flyers, who are 2-5 in their past seven but have a .767 points percentage against the Wild since 2003-04, second-best by any team in that span.
Boudreau liked Hanzal's game against the Sharks.
“He was strong in all areas last night,” Boudreau said of Hanzal, especially when it came to outmuscling players along the boards. “Sometimes you think he’s really slow, but he’s always in the right position.”
Speedy Jordan Schroeder is also trying to take advantage of opportunity with White sick and out of the lineup.
Boudreau likes the complexion of his forth line to have some physicality there, but Schroeder has done his best to bang bodies and get in on the forecheck.
“His skating can bring energy to the rest of the group,” Boudreau said. “That’s what it does on many occasions. I’m not asking him to be physical. Sometimes you have to get in the other guys way and you have to win the battle on the boards. No matter how big the guy is, you’ve got to want it more than him. And he’s done that.
“He’s done a good job when he comes in for us. t’s unfortunate for him that sometimes he plays a good game and then next thing you know he’s sitting four or five, but credit to him for having the great attitude and then coming in that next night and doing his job.”
Schroeder admits that’s frustrating and he’s trying to up the aggressiveness to show Boudreau there’s value to keeping him in the lineup.
Chris Stewart said Wednesday's practice was all about “doing some house maintenance,” mostly in the neutral zone.
Stewart said his fights to open the past two games was his attempt to try to get his struggling team revved.
He noted with the Sharks struggling, Micheal Haley was trying to do the same coincidentally, that there was no previous grudge.
"He was coming for me, or I was coming for him," Stewart said.
Boudreau felt Devan Dubnyk had a real solid game against the Sharks other than the one boo-boo.
Here's a funny line: "Sometimes that can throw you into a funk, but goalies are a different breed. I mean, they just slough that off, and they have to. If I made a mistake like that as a forward, I would have been discombobulated for a week."
I chatted with Josh Harding last night and on the radio today, so that'll be my Sunday column. I also touched base with Nick Schultz, who may be wrapping up his NHL career. I'll write about him in Friday's paper.
That's it for me.
Russo-Souhan Show at 6 p.m. Wednesday night at Hell's Kitchen.
I'll also be on KFAN on Thursday at 9:35 a.m. and 5 p.m. I'll be on Fox Sports North Thursday night during the pregame show and first intermission.
Jim and I are also doing a Facebook Live Show at Hell's Kitchen at 4:30 p.m. Friday.