Slow start weighs on Bouchard

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 11, 2013 - 8:02 AM

The Wild forward keeps skating hard, but says his confidence is hurting as much as his scoring touch.

hide

Wild coach Mike Yeo said he believes Pierre-Marc Bouchard is struggling to acclimate himself after missing the last half of last season, then sitting through the lockout.

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Pierre-Marc Bouchard won't blame his injuries, a lack of playing time or not having the benefit of a full training camp when he, more than most, could have used one.

Those are excuses, he said Saturday, dismissing the subject.

"That is not an issue," Bouchard said.

But Bouchard is struggling, that he knows. After missing the final 41 games of last season because of yet another concussion, after once again going through the process of getting back on the ice, Bouchard started this season strong.  He scored a goal in an opening night victory over Colorado, and he assisted on the only goal the following night in a 1-0 victory over Dallas.

He was a plus-2 after two games and everybody was saying Butch was back.

But since then Bouchard, whose game is based on speed and attacking the zone, has struggled. He has only one goal, no assists and nine shots on goal since. As a result, Wild coach Mike Yeo demoted Bouchard to the fourth line against Nashville on Saturday. And while Yeo said Bouchard responded with a better game, Bouchard again will be on the fourth line Monday when the Wild plays at Calgary.

And while Bouchard won't use it as an excuse, Yeo said he believes Bouchard is struggling to acclimate himself after missing the last half of last season, then sitting through the lockout.

"There has to be some understanding on both sides that it might take him a little while to get his game," Yeo said. "But at the same time, at this time of year, we're forced to put the best lineup on the ice, one that gives us the best chance to win."

Bouchard, meanwhile, contends he feels good. But he admits to having confidence issues.

"Physically I feel fine," he said. "It's just the actual game itself, the confidence level. The play I'm able to make, I don't make it as much as I used to. It's confidence, I guess."

And, perhaps, pressure.

The Wild is the only team Bouchard ever has played for. But he is in the final year of his contract, has had concussion issues and has a future that is anything but set.

Could that pressure be mounting, too?

Bouchard dismissed that notion, too.  

''The last three years have been pretty tough," he said. "Right now I'm not thinking about a contract. I just want to get out there and play some good hockey, win some games, make the club better. I'm trying to stay positive."

The season is still young, and teammates Devin Setoguchi and Mikael Granlund played their way out of a slumps.

"We'll continue to work with him," Yeo said of Bouchard. "But it's one of those things where he has to find a way to work his way up, the same way [Setoguchi] did."

How?

"I think the key is, first of all, when you're struggling you have to stay positive," Bouchard said. "That's the first thing. And you have to keep working hard, and maybe try to simplify your game a little bit. You simplify it, then you slowly gain confidence, shift after shift. Then you feel better and make more plays."

Yeo said Bouchard is working hard. At moments Saturday, he saw flashes of what makes Bouchard effective.

"The way he was attacking with speed off the rush," Yeo said. "Making plays on entries. I was encouraged to see him shooting pucks on power plays. If he can be aggressive and put pucks to the net, it will open up a lot more plays. You could see some of those things [Saturday]."

When Bouchard is effective, the Wild usually wins. Minnesota is 26-7-3 when Bouchard scores a goal since the start of the 2008-09 season.

Said Bouchard: "All I know is that it can be better. I know I can get better, that's for sure."

  • related content

  • Wild-Calgary game preview

    Sunday February 10, 2013

    Preview: The Wild, which ended a three-game losing streak with a 2-1 overtime victory over Nashville on Saturday, heads to Calgary, where it has lost two in a row. This...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta - LP: J. Johnson 0 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: K. Giles 1
NY Mets - LP: J. deGrom 1 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 6
Boston - WP: A. Ogando 7 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: B. Matusz 5
Cleveland - WP: D. Salazar 13 FINAL
Detroit - LP: S. Greene 1
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Motte 7 FINAL
Cincinnati - LP: B. Badenhop 3
Washington - LP: T. Roark 2 FINAL
Miami - WP: B. Morris 3
Toronto - LP: R. Dickey 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Dominguez 12
St. Louis - WP: C. Martinez 3 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: M. Garza 0
Kansas City 2 Suspended
Chicago WSox 2
San Francisco - LP: C. Heston 4 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 6
Pittsburgh - WP: G. Cole 4 FINAL
Arizona - LP: J. Collmenter 1
Houston - WP: L. Gregerson 5 FINAL
Oakland - LP: E. O`Flaherty 4
Texas - LP: K. Kela 2 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: G. Richards 3
Los Angeles - WP: Z. Greinke 3 FINAL
San Diego - LP: A. Cashner 0
Minnesota - LP: P. Hughes 0 FINAL
Seattle - WP: F. Hernandez 2
Houston 130 FINAL
Dallas 128
Toronto 99 FINAL
Washington 106
LA Clippers 73 FINAL
San Antonio 100
Ottawa 5 FINAL
Montreal 1
Pittsburgh 1 FINAL(OT)
NY Rangers 2
Minnesota 4 FINAL
St. Louis 1
New York City 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
FC Dallas 1 FINAL
Colorado 1

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Wild-Blues series end?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close