CHICAGO – Two hours before Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, Bruce Boudreau acknowledged that one reason the Wild acquired center Martin Hanzal was in response to Jonathan Toews lighting Minnesota up in the previous two meetings.
Toews, the third player to ever have five points in a game against the Wild, also scored an overtime winner against Minnesota in two Blackhawks victories in February.
Boudreau talked about how well the Wild was playing before Hanzal arrived and said he truly felt it was a better team with him.
As Boudreau talked, Hanzal was leaving United Center in a suit and heading to the airport to fly back to Minnesota. Hanzal became the latest Wild player to be struck by a virus crawling through the team.
His status for Tuesday’s game in Washington is uncertain.
Boudreau was disappointed because he wanted to see how the Wild matched up against the Toews line and the Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisomov-Patrick Kane line with Mikko Koivu, Eric Staal, Hanzal and Erik Haula up the middle.
“I would have liked to seen him in the game healthy if he played like he played in Florida,” Boudreau said of Hanzal.
Coyle gets to the net
Sunday, Charlie Coyle had a third consecutive quality game after a 10-game drought with no points.
“He’s skating. He’s competing in all areas of the ice,” Boudreau said. “You get a 220-pound, 6-3 guy that can skate like the wind doing that, he’s hard to contain. Hopefully he can continue keeping that up.”
In the past three games, Coyle has an empty-net goal, an assist, 15 shots and 24 shot attempts. This was all since Boudreau dropped him to the fourth line Thursday at Tampa Bay.
“That’s where it starts, time to get going,” Coyle said. “I know it’s an empty net [in Florida], but I’m going to take that. And that gives you a little confidence. So I just have to keep throwing pucks on net, keep getting open, get open and available. Go to that net. That’s where I’m going to get those garbage goals like I always do.”
It hasn’t been easy for Coyle because he has bounced around the lineup all season, from first to the third line, to all three forward positions.
“Yeah, but I should be used to that now,” he said. “I’ve been doing that for how long? So there’s no excuse for not being able to play my game every night. Do the things that make me successful. So I just have to make sure that I’m ready, mentally. I think that’s what’s most hard — it’s the mental game. I’ve got to just do what I need to do to be successful night in and night out. And that will work for me.”
Boudreau has pushed and prodded Coyle, been tough on him, has cajoled him. Boudreau said it’s up to him to figure out what tacks to take with different players.
“By no stretch of the imagination do I think, ‘Oh yeah, it’s cured now,’ ” Boudreau said. “He has to keep pushing.”
Getting the hook
Goalie Darcy Kuemper, who will start Thursday at Carolina, made 18 saves but got the loss in relief of Devan Dubnyk on Sunday. On Feb. 28 in Winnipeg during the Wild’s 61st game, Boudreau was the last NHL coach to pull a goalie this season.
He now has pulled one of his goalies in three of the past seven games.
Kuemper was surprised he was pulled in a 3-3 game at Florida.
“I thought I was playing a really good game,” he said. “Outside of two bad puck luck goals, I thought I was on.”