Finally, this five-game, 12-day odyssey wraps up Wednesday here in Toronto. I’ve been in Canada so long, I’ve started to adopt a bit of a Canadian accent and end every sentence with, “eh?”
Hopefully you read my feature today on Bruce Boudreau, the movie nut. Some real fun stuff in there.
And here's the charticle that went with it where Boudreau talks about some of his favorite movies, movie lines and why he actually kinda now regrets being in the movie, Slap Shot.
Wild and Leafs at Air Canada Centre. 6:30 p.m. CT puck drop.
The Wild has beaten the Leafs in six straight games (five one-goal wins) but is 3-6 all-time in Toronto. The Wild has scored one goal or less in seven of eight all-time losses vs. the Leafs. In its nine wins, it has outscored the Leafs 28-12.
Devan Dubnyk vs. Frederik Andersen, Boudreau’s old Ducks goalie. The two reunited before the Wild practiced today at the Maple Leafs’ practice facility.
Boudreau has great affection for Andersen. He said he told GM Lou Lamoriello and coach Mike Babcock at the draft after the trade with Anaheim that he was the “real deal” and would win a lot of games here.
He started in a big funk and Boudreau said Andersen learned how you need a thick skin in the Center of the Hockey Universe because every little thing is scrutinized. But he has learned and is on quite a roll (4-2-1 last seven with a 1.85 goals-against average and .938 save percentage).
It’ll be an interesting game Wednesday. Leafs return from a long road trip, which is usually funky and flat, and the Wild’s finishing a long road trip, which often is funky and a disaster for teams as they look forward to getting home.
Wild can’t afford that, as you know.
“I hope it doesn’t happen in this city,” said Boudreau, the former Leaf and local. “I have enough trouble winning in Toronto when I come, so I hope we’re ready to play. We’re coming off a pretty good win in Edmonton, and we’d like to continue this because then we’ll have a good stretch at home.”
Boudreau is 4-5-3 all-time in Toronto, 0-3-1 in his last four (outscored 23-10) with his goalies having a .781 save percentage.
Of course, the Wild’s used to playing close, close games. In fact, it has only lost by more than a goal ONCE this season.
Boudreau continued to pump Dubnyk’s tires for this factoid. He leads the NHL in save percentage (.945), shutouts (four) and goals-against average (1.63).
“I know we don’t get as much press as the people up here, but he’s been as good as any goalie in the league,” Boudreau said.
Leafs, led by Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner (tied for second among rookies with 19 points each, are also 4-1 in their past five at home, with the four wins all being with four or more goals scored.
“I’ve watched their home games, and when they’re on, you better be ready to play,” Boudreau said. “They’re going to very good, very good. It’s not going to take too long for these guys to be extremely good.”
In practice today, Boudreau stuck with the lines from the final two periods in Edmonton, meaning Zach Parise skated with Erik Haula and Jason Pominville and Nino Niederreiter (seven points in his past seven games) skated with Eric Staal (no goals in his last 12 games) and Charlie Coyle (leads the Wild with nine goals, has six points and is +7 in six career games vs. Toronto).
Parise has four goals and nine points in 17 games. He has 52 shots (3.1 a game) and a .076 shooting percentage.
But maybe a good sign was the amount of scoring chances with Haula and Pominville. In the Oilers game, he hit a post, hit a defender in the net on an open-net backhander, was stopped on a breakaway and had the puck pokechecked off his stick on a breakaway.
“That’s the first sign of coming back is getting chances,” Boudreau said. “It’s when you’re playing and nothing’s going in and you’re not getting any opportunities, that’s the time you start to worry about it. My dad used to tell me that every time I played, he says, ‘Are you getting chances? How many shots on goal did you get?’ That was his criteria as to whether things were going to start to go good for you or you better get your butt in gear.”
I talked to Parise, and you can hear from him in Wednesday’s paper.
Only other change? Well, they actually did this in Edmonton, but Matt Dumba is off the power play for now (one goal, two assists on the power play this season). He has been coughing up pucks left and right on the power play, although so has many guys. Jason Pominville takes his spot for now at the point.
“We’ve got to try something,” said Boudreau, his team 0 for 9 on the power play this trip. “It’s been going in fits and starts.”
He noted how the Wild’s power play was nearly 23 percent in November, but it didn’t feel that way.
“And we’ve started off December not too well,” he said. “Hopefully we get two one game and it’ll jumpstart us again.”
I spent last night’s four-game action in the NHL Situation Room at NHL headquarters. Third time I’ve done that, and hopefully you’ve read my articles the last two seasons from inside there. Fun night to be in there: Bunch of reviews, challenges, a couple overturned goals.
They are just a very professional crew, so thorough, and it’s quite the operation. I always appreciate them letting me sit in there.
Tonight, all the Central Division teams are in action except the Wild, so Wild’s bound to lose ground, although the Wild has games in hand on everybody (and soon to be five games in hand on a couple teams).
I’ll be on KFAN at 9:15-9:50 a.m. Wednesday.
Talk to ya Wednesday, eh?