The Wild still has more than 35 games remaining in the regular season and is in the midst of a too-close-to-call playoff race.
But in the coming days, forward Charlie Coyle will be relaxing in Mexico while winger Marcus Foligno soaks up the sun in Arizona.
“Pretty cold here,” Foligno said. “So looking forward to some nice weather.”
After hosting the Canucks on Sunday to complete a rare back-to-back at home, the Wild will embark on a mandatory five-day break. It’s the second season in which teams have paused their schedules, a trade-off players received for agreeing to the three-on-three, tournament style All-Star Game.
Winger Jason Zucker is also heading to Arizona and plans to golf, swim and hike with his family.
“We’ll definitely be active,” he said. “We’ll be out moving as far away from a hockey rink as possible.”
Coach Bruce Boudreau will also be on the move, visiting Fort Wayne, Ind., where he played for and coached the Komets in the 1990s when the team was part of the International Hockey League. Now, it’s in the ECHL and his son Ben is an assistant coach.
“I’m going to go to Fort Wayne and see my grandson and see if I can watch a hockey game,” Boudreau said.
Not everyone, however, is leaving the Twin Cities.
Goalie Devan Dubnyk is staying put, as his family awaits the arrival of another son. Dubnyk’s wife, Jennifer, was due Friday.
“It’s full baby watch here,” said Dubnyk, who will become a father to three boys. “Hopefully he hangs on there for another couple days.”
Dubnyk is hoping the delivery happens Monday, so he’d have the week to chill at home before the Wild reports back to work.
And while resting up is the upside of the down time, players did expect to stay active during the layoff so that they maintain their conditioning. After a Friday practice, the Wild jumps right back into the schedule by hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.
“You gotta stay moving, I think, just because you play so quickly at the end of it,” Dubnyk said. “If there were a few days of practice, you wouldn’t have to be as concerned about that. Getting back into it usually takes a couple days. You’re not going crazy but just for your body, you gotta stay moving a little bit and do something in the final days leading up because you’re right back at it.”
Assistant equipment manager Matt Benz worked his 1,000th professional hockey game Saturday. Benz is in his 16th season with the Wild.
“It’s great because they know their job,” Boudreau said. “They know when to do things and when not to do things. They’re always prepared. We have a great training staff here, and that really helps out the coaches.”
Gates open early
Gates 1, 4 and 5 at Xcel Energy Center will open at 3:30 p.m. for Sunday’s game, while Gates 2 and 3 will open at 5 p.m.
The Vikings’ NFC divisional playoff game against the Saints, which starts at 3:40 p.m., will be shown on concourse TVs, in the Michelob Golden Light Fan Zone and on the Bremer Bank Suite Level.
“It’s really exciting,” Zucker said of the playoff fever sweeping the state. “They’ve had a really good year. I think a lot of these guys have some sort of relationship with the Vikes in some way, so it makes it a lot of fun to be able to cheer for them and kind of be on their side. Hopefully we can give them any support that they need. Hopefully they can get a win.”