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Russo's Rants

Michael Russo gives you complete coverage of the Minnesota Wild and the NHL

Bruce Boudreau says Zach Parise is "fine," meets with two-thirds of Eric Staal line

Good evening from Edmonton, where I’ll get to watch Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers face the Anaheim Ducks tonight.

In an anomaly, for the second time on this crazily lengthy road trip that has two days between St. Louis and Vancouver, two days between Vancouver and Calgary and two days between Edmonton and Toronto, we’re in a city where the team the Wild eventually plays is hosting another team while we’re in town.

In Calgary, it was the Toronto Maple Leafs. Now in Edmonton, the Ducks are here.

It’s kind of awkward for Bruce Boudreau considering the Ducks let him go in late April after a Game 7 loss to Nashville.

Luckily for him, the Wild and Ducks are not staying at the same hotel.

But, with the Ducks playing tonight and residing in the NHL visitors’ room at the sparkling, new Rogers Place, the Wild had the Western Hockey League visitors’ room, which is nicer than many visitor rooms in the NHL.

So, Boudreau’s Wild media backdrop was just around the corner from the Ducks room and the Ducks backdrop.

“It is a little weird,” Boudreau said. “Walking in here, I was a little nervous whether I saw players or coaches, but it was nice that four or five players all came up and were really nice to me.”
Boudreau decided not to attend the game as not to be a distraction.”

Shooting the breeze with him later, Boudreau said, “It’s like running into an ex-girlfriend. You’re wondering if you’re still friends.”

Boudreau will watch the game on TV. He was toying with the idea of going, but it’s an 8 p.m. local start, and that’s too late for the coach. Plus, he doesn’t want to be a distraction.

By the way, and most Wild fans know, I loved the old Rexall Place. Best press box sightlines in the NHL, so I’ll miss that.

But this new Oilers arena is gorgeous and I’m looking forward to taking in tonight’s game, although I hear the press box is high and back. Plus, there’s a casino attached to the arena!

Today, the Wild had a very optional practice at the practice rink attached to the arena (like Columbus and New Jersey have).

Most the big-minute players didn’t practice. Those guys either had the day off, had meetings, got treatment or just worked out off the ice.

One day after saying he planned to talk to the trainers to make sure Zach Parise is healthy,  Boudreau said Parise is “fine.”

Boudreau, who called Parise’s skating sluggish and methodical after a shootout loss to Calgary, said Parise was probably laboring after blocking a first-period shot.

The Parise-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle line followed a tough game in Vancouver with an even tougher game in Calgary. The line combined for no points and two even-strength shots, although Chris Stewart scored while extending his shift into Staal’s and Coyle’s early in the game.

Boudreau met with Parise and Coyle for almost an hour Saturday afternoon, and he planned to meet with Staal on Saturday night (Staal's brother-in-law is in town, so Boudreau gave him the day off).

The coach went over their shifts on video to “see what we can do better, what we can do in different situations, where it’s not working, where it’s working. … There were two factors we found that I won’t get into that if they do [Sunday], I think it’ll be much better,” Boudreau said.

Boudreau said when he watched the video, it’s not as bad as he thought watching it live. He also likes to get the players’ point of views because they’re always trying to do the right thing even when wrong things happen, he said.

Parise’s a prideful guy, so I asked if he talked to Parise why he didn’t use him in overtime or the shootout. He didn’t, although Boudreau feels he explained his reasons in his postgame with us.

He says he wasn’t punishing Parise or Mikko Koivu, saying he would have used Koivu next if Coyle had tied the shootout and he was saving Koivu for the win. He said if the Wild had shot first, Koivu probably would have been in Round 3. As for using Nino Niederreiter to open the shootout, he said when Mikael Granlund went fourth in St. Louis, it was between Granlund and Niederreiter, so that’s why he decided to try Niederreiter to start.

As for the 0-1-2 trip so far (0-1-1 this week), Boudreau, who you know goes in week to week segments, said, “If we win [Sunday], then we would have lost one game in regulation in the last seven, and I think most teams would take that percentage. If we win, we tie the week and we’ve got a chance to win the five-game road trip with a win in Toronto.”

Talk in the morning, although you know my Twitter happy fingers will probably be tweeting away from the Ducks-Oilers game.

Ohhhhhhhhhhh, I have a real colorful story on Boudreau in the works for Tuesday’s paper, so make sure to check out that feature.

Postgame: Boudreau explains shootout decisions, voices concern over Zach Parise's skating

I bet all those Twitter peeps who were peppering me after the St. Louis shootout loss that it’s enough of Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu in shootouts were ecstatic tonight … until the Wild skated off the Calgary ice with a 3-2 shootout loss.

I feel safe saying for the first time in the Parise and Koivu eras (at least when in the lineup, obviously), neither guy got a crack in the shootout tonight.

Whether it was in reaction to their misses in St. Louis, or maybe thumbing through their recent shootout slumps or just a reaction to the way at least one of the two played tonight, Bruce Boudreau didn’t use either.

Parise is 40 for 96 in his career, Koivu 39 for 95. But Parise is 7 for his past 27, 2 for his past 11 and went 1 for 6 last year. Koivu went 0 for 5 last year.

Nino Niederreiter started the Wild off before Kris Versteeg scored. Jason Pominville tied it with his 26th career shootout goal before Sean Monahan, who was great tonight, scored. Charlie Coyle got the nod in Round 3, Boudreau said, because he noticed goalie Chad Johnson dropped his glove on the Pominville shot and told Coyle to try the same thing.

But Boudreau said, sarcastically, “I guess he changed his mind halfway down the ice.”

If Coyle scored, Boudreau said Koivu would have gotten the Round 4 chance.

Parise also only played the final 24 seconds of overtime, partly because the Wild opened OT by having to kill a 1:58 4-on-3 after Jason Zucker’s high-sticking minor with two seconds left in regulation. Zucker then had an ugly giveaway that led to the Wild being trapped, so it’s not like Boudreau had a lot of line change options in OT.

But, Boudreau admitted he didn’t put Parise out there earlier because he was worried if it went the other way there would be an odd-man rush the way Parise was skating tonight.

I asked point-blank if Parise is healthy. Boudreau said, “I don’t know,” and said he was going right from the postgame press scrum to the trainers to find out.

“He looked like he had trouble skating tonight,” Boudreau said. “He just looked sluggish, like very methodical in his skating.”

Parise only had one shot on a power-play one-timer tonight and the Parise-Eric Staal-Coyle line only had two first-period even-strength shots by Staal. Coyle had as tough a game as I’ve seen him having – no shots, tons of turnovers and just weird, convoluted board plays.

“They weren’t very good,” Boudreau said. “They’ve got to get going on their own. We can prod them, but in the end, we need those guys to be our best players, or we’re not going to have success.”

Chris Stewart gave the Wild an early 1-0 lead with his first goal in 16 games and first point in 15 games after overextending his fourth-line shift into a top-line role with Staal and Coyle.

But after Chad Johnson held the Wild’s hot third line at bay on a terrific forecheck, the Wild didn’t get a puck deep, something that was compounded by a line change. Monahan skated fast into the Wild zone, pulled up and found a trailer, Jyrki Jokipakka. The defenseman hammered a puck from the top of the left circle.

Not only did defenseman Matt Dumba not try to block the shot, he then didn’t defend Versteeg at the side of the net. He tied the score on a rebound.

Less than a minute later, Erik Haula took a holding penalty and 10 seconds later, Mikael Backlund made it 2-1.

Devan Dubnyk denied Mark Giordano’s shot, then robbed Matthew Tkachuk on the rebound. But a puck spit into the crease and the only one to find it off a scramble was Backlund.

The Wild has given up four power-play goals on the road trip.

The Wild actually took three penalties in the first period after entering the game with the third-fewest minors in the NHL and averaging 2.9 times shorthanded per game.

The Flames did a great job locking things down and making it very tough for the Wild to get through the neutral zone in the first 40 minutes. But in the third, a great shift by the second line resulted in Koivu’s tying goal.

The Wild had two chances to score on the power play in the third and didn’t even get a shot against the league’s 28th-ranked penalty kill. It did get a big kill though after a Dumba penalty in the third, and then the Zucker penalty that filtered into OT.

Dubnyk was clutch in the third with some huge saves after Koivu tied it, and Jared Spurgeon, who had five shots, two assists and four blocked shots, robbed Michael Frolik of a game-winner in OT.

Overall early, Boudreau said, “It just looked like we were really sluggish, like we were skating in quicksand. We were playing too slow, and when you play slow, bad things happen.”

Said Dubnyk, “I don’t think it was our best game by any means, but that’s a hard earned point and we stuck with what we were doing even though things didn’t seem to be bouncing our way most of the game.”

The Wild fell to 0-1-2 on its five-game road trip and 5-6-2 in its past 13 games.

On to Edmonton, where superstar Connor McDavid and the Oilers play back-to-back home games, so no excuse for the Wild to be the more sluggish team Sunday.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

< >
  • Detroit at Gophers women's basketball

    2 pm on 1500-AM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Wisconsin

    3:30 pm

  • Timberwolves at Charlotte

    6 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Gophers men's basketball vs. Vanderbilt at Sioux Falls, S.D.

    7 pm on 1500-AM

  • Ohio State at Gophers men's hockey

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 1500-AM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Wisconsin

    2 pm

  • Wild at Edmonton

    8:30 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • NJIT at Gophers men's basketball

    7 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • San Antonio at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, NBATV, 830-AM

  • Gophers women's basketball at New Mexico

    8 pm on 88.5-FM

  • Wild at Toronto

    6:30 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Toronto

    6 pm on TNT, 830-AM

  • Army at Gophers women's basketball

    8 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Gophers men's hockey at Michigan State

    5:30 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Boston U.

    6 pm

  • Edmonton at Wild

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Detroit at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 830-AM

  • Georgia Southern at Gophers men's basketball

    8 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Boston U.

    2 pm

  • Gophers men's hockey at Michigan State

    7 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

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Today's Scoreboard

No MLB games today

No NFL games today

  • Brooklyn



    - F



  • Minnesota



    - F



  • Boston



    - 4th, 0:16



  • Atlanta



    - F



  • LA Lakers



    - 4th, 10:43



  • Chicago



    - 3rd, 8:03



  • Denver



    - 2nd, 4:15



  • Miami


    9:00 PM

  • Phoenix

    Golden State

    9:30 PM

  • Boston



    - F



  • Carolina

    NY Rangers


    - F



  • Chicago



    - F



  • New Jersey



    - F



  • Toronto



    - F



  • Winnipeg

    St. Louis


    - F



  • Florida



    - F



  • Detroit



    - F



  • Washington

    Tampa Bay


    - F



  • Columbus



    - End 2nd



  • Dallas



    - End 1st



  • Anaheim


    9:00 PM

No MLS games today