During a workmanlike practice at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday, the Wild reverted to an old, familiar look. Coach Bruce Boudreau went back to his tried-and-true defensive pairings—Ryan Suter with Jared Spurgeon, and Matt Dumba with Jonas Brodin—after flip-flopping the combos for much of training camp.
Boudreau said before camp began that he wanted to experiment with a new look. He hoped the pairing of Suter (above) and Dumba would put Suter in “more of an offensive role’’ and allow Dumba to excel. He also left himself the option of going back to the usual duos if he wasn’t thrilled with what he saw, and that’s what Boudreau has chosen to do.
“We’ll probably put (Spurgeon) back with Suter, because it worked so well in the past,’’ he said. “We tried something else, and I just didn’t think it was as good as what we could have gotten.
“Spurgeon and Suter were arguably the best in the league last year. Both were plus-34. They seem to be on the ice all the time. And I thought especially in October, when the schedule is not that tough, that they can use the minutes. And we may as well have them together than apart.’’
Though Boudreau noted he is still moving parts around to try to find winning combinations, it appears the third defensive pair will feature veteran Kyle Quincey alongside young Mike Reilly. Quincey said Reilly is “a hell of a skater’’ whose skills complement Quincey’s stay-at-home defensive style, a point echoed by Boudreau. The coach hopes the two find chemistry, and he complimented Quincey on his physical play in the past two games.
“He’s done well,’’ Boudreau said. “I’m pleasantly surprised.’’
Of Reilly, Quincey said, “We’re going to put him in every situation. He can bring the puck up the ice and use his strengths. Then I’m there to do the heavy lifting in front of the net. I think it’s a good tandem. It will be interesting to see how we do in the first couple weeks. I’m definitely excited.’’
The Wild’s line combinations appear to be solidifying as well, though Boudreau still views his forwards as “interchangeable.’’ Zach Parise (back) won't play the first two games.
The current combos:
Nino Niederreiter-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle
Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund
Marcus Foligno-Joel Eriksson Ek-Chris Stewart
Tyler Ennis-Matt Cullen-Daniel Winnik
Winnik is still unsigned, and was not listed on the Wild's roster today. The team has until 4 p.m. to finalize its roster with the NHL. Here is the roster: