The Wild went through an intense one-hour practice this morning at the X after a 3-2 loss in St. Louis on Thursday night.
Theme of the day was a higher competitive level.
“Compete, you know? We’re a pretty good team when we compete, but when we compete for half the game, we’re not a very good team,” said coach Bruce Boudreau.
The Wild struggled through the first period before getting back into the opener, but it was a disappointing night for the players.
“We’re not going to get any shots on goal if we don’t apply pressure to the team,” Boudreau said after practice. “We don’t want a 21-shot game too often this year. Two in the first period."
Said defenseman Jared Spurgeon: “We all know as a group we can play better. Winning battles was the key to practice today, a lot of little battles. Hard work’s going to be the main factor for our team.”
Said Zach Parise: “If you’re not willing to compete and engage in a place like St. Louis, it’s tough to win.”
Lines stayed the same at practice as they were for the start of the Blues game, but Boudreau juggled defensive pairings a bit and said there could be some changes on Saturday night for the home opener against Winnipeg: “It’s early in the season, we want to see everybody.”
D-pairs at practice were Suter-Spurgeon, Scandella-Folin, Dumba-Brodin and Reilly-Prosser. Could mean Mike Reilly, who played in St. Louis, is out and Christian Folin is in. Or maybe not.
After a strong finish to the exhibition season, the jump to the bright lights was a tough one for the Wild.
“Definitely a tougher game than in the preseason,” said winger Nino Niederreiter . “That’s the tough thing about switching from preseason into regular season.
“We have to make sure we have a really strong start tomorrow night to win the hockey game.”
The coach met individually with players on Friday, which he plans to do on a regular basis.
“It’s about getting to know each other and telling them what I think they have accomplished or haven’t accomplished so far,” Boudreau said. “We have them about every 10 games or so. Sometimes if a player is going through a bad time, a bad segment, he wants to get something off his chest, it’s a good time to talk and be able to communicate rather than to hold it in and fester and get mad. It also gives me an opportunity to learn about them and what makes them tick.”
The 61-year-old coach’s old school reference of the day – claiming he was no mind reader --was The Amazing Kreskin. Good thing I was covering today; I don’t think Russo would have picked up on it.