The Wild has been getting plenty of work in even-strength situations in practices but not so much in games. In Sunday’s 5-1 loss at the Colorado Avalanche, the Wild took nine penalties and gave up two power-play goals.
“We had a couple bad penalties,” assistant coach John Anderson said. “We can’t continually take 10 penalties because what it does is it ruins the flow and tires everybody out, and we can’t get anything going offensively. I think we’ve had 18 penalties the last two games, and we haven’t had a 5-on-5 goal.”
The focus so far in training camp has been on 5-on-5, but the preseason games have been special team heavy. Forward Jason Zucker said the players knew it was going to be like this heading into camp.
“It makes just the flow of the game a lot more difficult,” Zucker said. “The game we played here Saturday night, seemed like every time we tried to get a 5-on-5 shift, it was a power play or a penalty kill one way or another. I think we’ve got to just be smarter with our sticks and just try to stay out of the box as much as we can. They’re experimenting with it right now, trying to see what that line is, and I think a lot of guys are crossing it right now. So it’s a feeling-out process, and we’ve got to figure it out sooner rather than later.”
Anderson said even-strength play needs improvement.
“I’d like to see a little better net-front presence,” he said. “We have to get some greasy goals down low. If we don’t have guys going to the net because they’re too tired or not with the lines they’re supposed to be, no familiarity. We have to stop the excuses here. We have to stay out of the box and play the game.”
Boudreau still away
Anderson acted as coach in Sunday’s game and addressed the media Monday at Xcel Energy Center, as coach Bruce Boudreau was absent from practice, still dealing with the death of his brother.
Bryan Boudreau died suddenly Saturday night at age 58. The funeral will be Wednesday in Woodbridge, Ontario.
“It’s a tough time for him right now,” Anderson said of Bruce Boudreau. “He’s a pretty resilient guy. I think he’s concerned about his mom a little bit. He’s doing fine. I appreciate the asking. Everybody has been really nice, and I know he appreciates the condolences and the sympathies. “
Anderson said Boudreau had been texting him “five times every hour” for updates on the team.
Parise, Cullen out
Only 19 of 37 players currently on the roster skated in full Monday, as many who played in Sunday’s game did not skate. Zach Parise, who recently returned from a back injury, and Matt Cullen skated ahead of practice but didn’t participate in the full team skate.
“It’s an ongoing thing and day to day,” Anderson said. “We’ll see how it goes.”