Wild coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t commemorate his 500th victory by celebrating Saturday night.
“I went home to bed,” he said. “I’m not 25 anymore.”
And when he reported to work Sunday morning, Boudreau, 63, didn’t reflect much on the accomplishment — instead focusing on the second half of a back-to-back at home vs. Boston.
“I had a lot of acquaintances and friends that gave me a quick text,” he said. “But it’s over and done with now.”
Such is the mentality of a coach navigating a cramped playoff race, a reality for the Wild that seems to differentiate its contribution to Boudreau’s 500 wins from what his time with the Capitals and Ducks symbolized.
Boudreau, who became the second-fastest to reach 500 wins (837 games) and quickest among active bench bosses, started his NHL coaching career with 201 wins in Washington at the helm of a dominant team that stymied most of its opponents.
Later, in Anaheim, he earned the bulk of his victories (208) with a veteran Ducks team that also always seemed primed for success.
And while Boudreau is only in his second season in Minnesota, with the 4-1 victory over the Predators his 91st with the franchise, that has been ample time for the team to flourish under Boudreau as a group eager to break through and reach new heights.
“Washington was a very offensively gifted team, and we didn’t mind winning 7-5 or 6-4 back then,” Boudreau said. “I think Anaheim was an experienced team and a lot of guys that won the Cup. And this is a hungry team.”
Wild winger Nino Niederreiter inched closer to the 20-goal mark Saturday after scoring his 18th — the eventual game-winner — and the goal capped off an already meaningful day with even more significance.
Niederreiter had a new neighbor in the locker room Saturday, as 7-year-old Amare Hanson hung out with the team after Make-A-Wish and the Minnesota Wild Foundation granted his wish to attend a game, tour Xcel Energy Center and meet Niederreiter.
But Hansen, who is from Bena, Minn., and is diagnosed with a serious heart condition, did way more than that.
He arrived at the arena in a limo, was signed to a one-day contract and attended the morning team meeting, settling into his own stall next to Niederreiter. The two even walked into the arena together before the game.
“It’s definitely very special and very heartwarming,” Niederreiter said. “ … I’m very fortunate to be in the situation I’m in, so it was great to give him something he really wanted.”
The Wild didn’t have long to bask in the glow of its win over the Predators, not when the Bruins’ equipment was being lugged into the visiting team’s digs in the aftermath Saturday night.
But the confidence a showing like that stirs could linger, when the team reunites with the Predators on Tuesday in Nashville and potentially if the two teams meet in the playoffs.
“It’s not going to win you anything come playoff time, but I think it’s important to just have a positive feeling against a team that you go up against,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “Better than the other way. It doesn’t matter come playoff time but if you’re going to pick one way or the other, you might as well have that positive feeling and feeling like you can beat them every time you go out there.”
What of Greenway?
Prospect Jordan Greenway’s college season came to an end Sunday just short of a Frozen Four bid, as Boston University was eliminated by Michigan 6-3 in the Northeast Regional final of the NCAA tournament.
The Wild planned to give Greenway his space Sunday night before speaking with his adviser about Greenway signing a pro contract.
Greenway finished his junior season with 13 goals and 35 points in 36 games. The 21-year-old, drafted in the second round (50th overall) in 2015, also skated in the Olympics for Team USA, chipping in a goal in five games.