With a day off Thursday, and Friday going to be a short special teams practice before the team hits the road for a Saturday matinee in Colorado, the Wild had a battling practice today designed to get the sweat pouring.
It ended with an entertaining small area game of one vs. one, then two vs. two. The goalies just love it (I'm being sarcastic) because the pegs aren't in the holes, so when they lean on their posts to push off, next thing you know the cages are in the corner.
"When you do a compete practice, you get a good sweat going and you battle hard," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It's the one thing I think we can get better as a group is battling on the boards. We do a lot of good things defensively and as such, but I think on the board battles is something I think we can improve upon."
Couple tweaked lines today:
Mikael Granlund-Mikko Koivu-Jason Pominville remained intact, but Boudreau's going to give a try the line I mentioned on yesterday morning's blog that I was interested in seeing: Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle.
Joel Eriksson Ek centered Jordan Schroeder and Chris Stewart and Tyler Graovac centered Nino Niederreiter and Christoph Bertschy.
Basically, Boudreau says it's time for the Staal line to break out and he repeated a constant theme with Coyle, it's time for him to show how good of a player he wants to be.
“We need at one point somebody to come out and get a four-point night, you know, and just dominate,” Boudreau said. “Sometimes you wake up and you feel so good, you know nothing’s going to go wrong and everything goes right. We just need somebody to jump up and do that, and if we do that, great, it’ll spur everybody on.”
Boudreau’s used to coaching teams with gamebreakers like Alex Ovechkin, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, so it remains to be seen if the Wild has that type of player.
The closest may be Coyle, who still is the type of player who has all the tools yet makes you crave for more almost nightly.
Tuesday was a perfect example of that. Coyle was the most visibly dangerous player, especially in the second period, but at the end of the night, he had a grand total of no points and one shot. He dangled beautifully through the slot, he drove the net often.
But often times, plays died because Coyle couldn’t get a shot off, forced passes for turnovers or sent a pass off a teammate’s skate.
That caused Boudreau on Wednesday to tell Coyle, who has three goals, four assists and 18 shots in 10 games, “You’re teasing me.”
“He does have the ability in every aspect -- from size, speed, shot, stickhandling -- to be a great player,” Boudreau said. “It’s just up to his determination to how great he wants to be.”
I wrote more about this in Thursday's paper.
That's it for me. Today at Hell's Kitchen at 4 p.m., the Russo-Souhan Show will be taped. Please join us. Lindsay Whalen will join us, and plenty of Wild talk.
Chris Miller is covering practice for me Friday, and I'll join the team in Denver. I'll be on KFAN at 4:55 p.m. Friday.
I'll also post a blog in the morning for the first Russo's Rants Sunday Insider Q and A of the season.